By Hal Bent
It should have been the comeback story of the season: tight end Rob Gronkowski returns from multiple offseason surgeries and puts the summer of Aaron Hernandez and TIm Tebow to rest at last by leading the New England Patriots over their division rival New York Jets. Unfortunately, the Patriotsdefense got worn down in the second half while the offense sputtered and spit through a tough game and could not convert on multiple opportunities to win the game. Instead of a spectacular return, it was a sad finish to another frustrating afternoon for New England in East Rutherford, NJ.
It was another frustrating afternoon for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as his completion percentage was again under fifty percent as he continued to be out-of-sync with his receivers throughout the game, despite it being week seven of the season now. The excuses are getting tired, and the production needs to be on the field. With Gronkowski back, running back Stevan Ridley close to full strength, and promising rookie receivers to go along with a pair of productive slot receivers, the offense should be clicking. Instead, poorly thrown passes by quarterback Tom Brady, especially downfield, continued to derail the Patriots offense.
On defense, no one expected New England to shut out the Jets without veteran defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, linebacker Jerod Mayo, and star cornerback Aqib Talib. In place of these four Pro Bowl caliber players stepped two undrafted free agents (defensive tackles Joe Vellano and Chris Jones), second-year linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and rookie cornerback Logan Ryan. However, injuries exist in the NFL, the Patriots are hardly the only team that has lost impact players this year, and the defense just plain got out-hustled, out-muscled, and out-executed time and time again by a mediocre Jets offense with no receivers of note, a career backup running back, and a turnover-prone rookie second-round draft pick at quarterback.
Despite the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, the third down woes continued for New England on offense as they were 1-for-12 on third down; meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the defense allowed New York to extend drives all afternoon and to convert over fifty percent of their third-down chances. In the third quarter, the Patriots offense was abysmal as they failed to put together any sort of offensive drive. In the third quarter the Patriots offense went interception returned for a defensive touchdown, three-and-out, three-and-out, and three-and-out with the last two drives netting negative yardage.
On defense in the third quarter, the Patriots watched the Jets offense shoot itself in the foot with injuries on their first drive of the half, then allowed consecutive scoring drives to let New York completely erase the 21-10 halftime lead and give the Jets a 27-21 lead going into the fourth quarter. Even when the Patriots defense got the Jets offense off the field in the fourth quarter without allowing any points, the defense still allowed the Jets offense to run seventeen plays on two drives and eat up almost nine minutes of the clock. One three-and-out by the defense and the Patriots offense may have been in position to have a shorter field to drive and more time to execute and possibly win in regulation.
The Patriots need to put their loss to New York behind them because another dangerous division rival awaits them on Sunday. While the Miami Dolphins have been inconsistent this season, they–like the Jets–have a defense designed to specifically combat Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Like the Jets, the Dolphinsdefensive line is stellar. Rookie Dion Jordan–if the Dolphins defensive coaches ever let him play consistently–has the making of a future star opposite Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake.
The Dolphins stout middle of their defense is what gives them a huge advantage matching up with New England. Patriots offensive tackles Sebastian Vollmer andNate Solder have been dominant this season and the stats back the eye test up: ProFootballFocus.com ranks Patriots left tackle Nate Solder as the best offensive tackle in football so far this season with an overall rating of +18.9; in addition, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer comes in fourth in the NFL in ProFootballFocus.com’s offensive tackle ratings with an overall grade of +15.4. New England has the top rated left and right tackle in the NFL so far this season.
The problem for the Patriots has been in the interior of the line...TO READ MORE, CLICK HERE: http://cover32.com/patriots/2013/10/23/patriots-need-to-move-on-from-loss-to-the-jets/