The Patriots eked out a 13-10 victory on Thursday night over the Jets, their second straight win. Unfortunately for them there's not much to be happy about 2-0 given the poor performance of their skill-position players Thursday, coupled with a serious lack of depth at wideout and running back.
Tom Brady completed just 48.7 percent of his passes, the first time the Patriots quarterback has been sub-50 percent since 2009. Making matters worse is that 13 of Brady's 19 completions went to Julian Edelman, who somehow managed just 78 receiving yards on a career-high receptions total.
Aaron Dobson had a nice touchdown pass early in the game and Kenbrell Thompkins nearly hauled in an overthrow from Brady but by and large the wideouts for the Patriots were the biggest story of the night, even as the Pats remained undefeated.
"The passing game is all about anticipation. They have to anticipate what I'm going to do and I have to anticipate what they're going to do," Brady said of his wide receivers. "We can do a better job of that. I think it's unrealistic for them to feel like they can do it like 10-year veterans. It's not what they are, but they're trying hard and they work really hard and they have a lot of skill and they're great kids. We've just got to keep battling."
A close second on the list of concerns is the poor play by Brady, combined with his continued on-field blowups at his various skill-position guys for not hauling in passes.
"I think I have to do a better job with my body language," Brady said. "I definitely can improve that. I wouldn't say it's a real strong point of mine right now. We'll just try to keep doing better. That's what we've got to do."
And a less obvious factor is the lack of Wes Welker on the field thanks to the Patriots declining to pay him this offseason. Don't worry though, he noticed:
My dude @Edelman11 is having a hell of a game. Keep it going bud!— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) September 13, 2013
The guy charged with replacing Welker, Danny Amendola, is sidelined for what might end up being more than a month. It's a major concern for New England; their wideouts aren't going to suddenly get acclimated to Brady overnight.
Rob Gronkowski, who could return in Week 4, will make a massive difference for the Pats and along with Edelman and the youngsters can keep the Pats floating until Amendola returns. New England will be fine because the defense is good enough, the division is weak enough and they still have Brady. That always puts them a little over the top.
But if you're someone associated with the Pats you absolutely left Thursday night terrified about how they'll manage to produce points without their big-name pass catchers on the field.
|Patriots 13, Jets 10|
|D+||For a while Geno Smith looked like he could pull off an impressive upset, but a trio of fourth-quarter picks ended any hope of that. He stood strong in the pocket but definitely made some rookie mistakes, didn't anticipate passes enough and lacked vertical prowess. The Jets defense was pretty good (although aided by the Pats offense) but if Muhammad Wilkerson is hurt that's a major blow. Limiting New England like this and not coming away with a win is a stinger.|
|D-||You can't fail a winner right? The Patriots were about as bad as you can be offensively. Stevan Ridley couldn't get it going on the ground, Brady was an emotional mess in the first half and the wideouts, as noted above, are a major problem. The defense did nice work -- Chandler Jones emerged with a pair of sacks -- but we shouldn't give them too much credit against a weak Jets offense. Sloppy game all around.|