13 degrees / strong winds (wind chill -3)
Key Decision #1: (Opening kickoff)
- Typically, New England defers if they win the toss, but not today. As Bill Belichick explained postgame, in extreme weather conditions, they generally like to take the ball so they can choose the preferred direction in the second half, so if the game is close, the wind direction might favor the Patriots.
- In today’s game, there were gusts from 15-20 mph; which is significant, and it affected the flight of the ball on passes and kicks.
- By taking the opening possession, the Patriots strung together a textbook drive for a TD, highlighted by a decision to bypass a 38-yard, into-the-wind FG attempt from the New York 21. Instead, the Patriots converted a 4th & 2 that resulted in a 7-0 lead. The Jets never made up the deficit in this game.
Key Decision #2: (NYJ trail 7-0 / 1st & 10 NE 21 / 3:12 Q1)
- On their second possession behind young QB Bryce Petty, the Jets mounted a nice drive in an effort to tie the game. Two Petty completions and a nice 24-yard run around left end by RB Bilal Powell put New York into great position just outside the redzone.
- On this play, the Jets decided to test the right side of the Patriots again with a deep toss play to RB Elijah McGuire, and this time it didn’t work. Instead, the Patriots shored up the edge – which is a fundamental Belichick coaching point – and they did so successfully that McGuire was tackled for a big eight-yard loss.
- The Jets couldn’t convert a 2nd & 18 and had to settle for a FG and a 7-3 deficit.
Key Decision #3: (NYJsd trail 14-3 / 1st & 10 NYJ 28 / 4:09 Q2)
- Up to this point, Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles had been managing the game as well as he could in keeping the game close and competitive, particularly considering he was starting a fairly green QB in Petty. Bowles coached as if he knew that Petty would struggle to put up points vs the Patriots, and if he could keep the score to within one possession entering the 3rd quarter, that would be a victory.
- Earlier in the half, the Jets missed a 40 yard FG attempt that could have cut the score to 7-6. This possession would give the New York another opportunity to cut the deficit entering halftime, in addition to getting the ball coming out of the locker room.
- This particular possession also was critical because the Jets needed to run some clock; they certainly did not want to give the Patriots their first opportunity to make this a three-possession game, as that would effectively end the game; the likelihood the Jets could overcome three possessions in the 2nd half of a -3 wind chill game with Petty would be remote, at best.
- Unfortunately for the Jets, they went three and out. The Patriots made a successful blitz call on 3rd & 10 that resulted in a sack. The Patriots received the ball with two minutes to go in the half, took it 57 yards for a TD and a 21-3 lead, and the game effectively was ended at that point.
- After watching the Patriots defense all year, it’s quite clear that Bill Belichick and his DC Matt Patricia use the blitz very judiciously, but when they do, it’s well timed and they also know what risk they’re willing to tolerate at that particular moment in the game. They generally would rather test your ability to convert key 3rd downs over and over on a drive, but when they feel the occasion is right, they will blitz appropriately.
- It always is difficult to determine how effective a game plan is when the weather elements are so harsh, as they were this particular afternoon. It was clear the Jets wanted to see what Petty could or couldn’t do. We felt they mixed the plays as well as they could, but Petty often was inaccurate, but some of this may have been due to the weather, (i.e., the ball is hard, it’s bitterly cold, and it was very gusty.) If not for a missed FG early in the game, New York may have pushed this game further into the 4th quarter.
- The Jets did a good job of taking TE Rob Gronkowski out of the game. QB Tom Brady came into the game short-handed; three of the top four RBs were hurt, and WR Chris Hogan also was out. So Todd Bowles made the wise decision to eliminate Gronkowski and force Brady to look elsewhere, and he ultimately caused Brady to complete less than 50 percent of his passes. We feel Bowles’ W-L will improve once the Jets roster improves, but they’re simply not good enough on offense at the moment.