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2017 Season Blog.

Defending

Super Bowl Champs.

7-Things For Sunday: Part II. 

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

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Not Sure.

By TOM

3. Suck-Suck-Suck- The Jets suck. They destroyed their team from last season, which was the remnants of their last playoff team. But a strange thing happened on the way to Sam Darnold. They decided to stop losing. They just kept winning this season, and even beat the Jags, who were 2 and 1 before they ran into a Jet. Sometimes winning just begets winning. 

Sometimes the competitiveness of refusing to lose wins out. "High, very high [competitiveness]," BB said. "I mean, you look at the play in the Miami game. That’s a great example right there where McCown goes back to pass, Wake kind of flushes him up in the pocket. Suh hits him as he’s throwing the ball. The ball goes sideways off to the right. Is it a fumble? Is it an incomplete pass? Miami's got one guy running to the ball. The Jets have four guys running to the ball and, ultimately, McCown ends up recovering a fumble 25 yards off to the side of the play and they got four guys right there. He came up with it but it could have been one of the other three guys, too. Miami's got one guy there. I think that’s a good example of their competitiveness as a team." They are going to fight the Pats, at home, like they just stole their last piece of pie.

The Jets are not winning by accident. "They hustle, they tackle. They’re alert. They’ve taken advantage of the fourth-and-21 play against Jacksonville on a fake punt or [Marcus] Williams catches a ball and breaks a couple of tackles, gets a first down," BB said. "Last week against Cleveland they’re out of field goal range with six seconds. They run an out-of-bounds play, kick a 57-yard field goal, win by three. Exchange punts against Jacksonville in overtime with two minutes to go, get a punt return, kick a field goal and win in overtime. I mean, the other team has as good a chance at winning as they did. I’d say they out-competed them, out-executed them, outperformed them in critical situations. I mean, look, it’s a two-point play against Buffalo to tie the game at the end of the third quarter. That was a very competitive game, too." We have watched the Pats just win for years.

And now we want to pretend we don’t recognize that trait in another team. "Even I would say in the Oakland game even though they didn’t win that game, they fell behind at halftime, but I thought they competed very hard through the end of the game," BB said. "[Jermaine] Kearse scored at the end of the game. They made a lot of plays, made a fourth-down stop at the end of the game, or it was a third-down stop that led to a fourth-down stop – so they’ve played good in critical situations. They’ve played good at the end of games. They’ve played good for 60 minutes. They play hard. I mean, whoever is saying that I don’t know what games they are watching. Maybe it’s fantasy football or some garbage. I don’t know. I don’t know how you can watch that team play and not think they’re one of the most competitive teams we've played." Don't bet your mortgage on this game.

Personally, I don't know who have these guys are, but just like the Pats, if a no-name guy gets the job done who gives a crap? "They've played good complementary football. They're a good team," BB said for real. "Offensively, they get the ball to everybody: all of their backs, tight ends, receivers, quarterback. They're a well-balanced team, make you defend everybody." Plus, they are at Home.

Defense always play better at home. "Defensively, good team speed, athletic. They have some tough players to block up front and they have good speed in the back end. Special teams? A couple of dangerous returners in Kerley and Stewart. Their usual strong coverage players: [Rontez] Miles, [Josh] Martin, [Julian] Stanford. [Terrence] Brooks has done a good job for them. A couple of big legs with [Lac] Edwards and [Chandler] Catanzaro, long field goals, kickoffs, long punts. Edwards has changed field position in the punting game several times this year. He did it to help them beat Jacksonville. He did it last week against Cleveland." I don't know who those guys are, but they have certainly earned Belichick's respect.

They are doing it with a lot of young hungry guys who don't know what they don't know. "A lot of young players, 25 new players from when we played them last year, which was Week 16," BB said. "But a lot of young players and a lot of guys. They brought in some guys, younger veteran types along with their draft choices and so forth from the last couple of years. They're doing a good job." Yes they are.

Some team just have it. I'm not sure the Pats have it yet, but it appears the Jets do. "But you've got to be impressed with what the Jets have done. They've had three weeks in a row that they've played well," BB said. "They've done a good job offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. They've made some big plays in all three areas, don't turn the ball over, play good defense, play well on special teams. It's always tough with the Jets. It'll be tough this week. Again, I have a lot of respect for Coach [Todd] Bowles and the job that he does down there and the way that they've been playing." The Jets have something special that kept them winning early this season, when others have failed.

The Jets were the surprise team in the third quarter of this season. "I mean, that's a good record. I mean, I think 3-2 and they're fighting," Brady said. "I think they've played really well. I think they have a good team, and I think every time we play down there, it's been a tough game. In the last five years, [there's] been a bunch of tough games. That's what we're expecting." Maybe the Pats are their roadblock, or maybe visa versa.

4. Leadership- The trouble is that the Jets seem to have come together quicker than the Pats. "I mean, we just need to work to get better in every area. I think individually we can all improve and each of the smaller units can improve. Whether that's: offensive line, receivers, running backs, linebackers, defensive line, whatever it is," BB said. "Each of those units can improve and we can improve overall in the three: special teams, offense, and defensive units. We'll try to focus our improvements in those areas. We'll look at each player individually. How can they improve? How can we improve the positional groups and how can we improve overall as units? Each week we'll make some adjustments and modifications, what we're doing, some by game plan, some as we feel like we have a better. More direction on what it is we're trying to get done. So it'll be a combination of all of those things." This is one of those rare times when I don’t think BB is just blowing smoke to build up a bad team.

As we watched the Pats struggle to put it all together in the first four weeks. The Jets somehow managed to speed up the process for their team. Now they were playing some terrible teams. The Browns and Dolphins might set records for ineptitude this season. But the Jags were feisty in October. They lost the first two games to the Bills and Raiders, but then won three straight. The Jags were 2 and 1 when they beat them.

But I think the Pats defense is coming together behind the leadership of McCourty and Hightower. "I think that was a big part of what was going on. I think that game plan-wise Matty P and Bill did a great job as far as that," Hightower said. "As far as just the communicators, guys taking charge and taking leadership whether it be me, or Dev, or KV, or Trey or whoever it was, or is. Just getting people calm and playing our defense, our style. Last week was a lot faster and a lot more aggressive. If we were able to communicate and talk and get all of that stuff out of the way then we're able to play faster. It shouldn't have to come to that. It should be that every play. Like I said, we're building, hopefully. It's a little later than we'd like to but there's no time like the present." So much of this game is going to depend on the defense.

McCown is not a great QB, but a veteran who knows how to get the ball to his playmakers. "All around they have good playmakers and they do a good job of putting those guys in situations, whether it's Powell, or it's Forte or [Elijah] McGuire even," Hightower said. "Sometimes you see them, their big runs, it's just sometimes they don't get touched or it's a make-one-guy-miss type of thing. They just do a good job of that, whether it's [Jermaine] Kearse over the middle or whatever it is. They just do a good job of breaking tackles and getting the ball north and south." We have all seen what smart veteran QBs have done to the Pats D on a bad Sunday.

They will have to have it again this week, because McCown is not going to make a lot of mistakes. "I think he's been effective throughout his career. I don't think it's limited to a couple of games here. The guy has played 15 years or however long it's been, so he's a good quarterback," BB said. "He's tough. He's smart. He uses all of his options. He's in a very well-balanced offense with Coach Morton. It's a quarterback-friendly type of offense, like New Orleans runs. What the Jets run is similar to that, has bases in that.

"He has a lot of options. He uses them. He gets the ball out quick. He's been accurate. He's athletic. He's able to extend plays. I mean, he's over 70 percent completion so he's making a lot of good decisions, throwing the ball accurately and getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers and letting those guys make the plays. He's played well. Not every system is designed that way, but that's where he is now, that's the way he's playing and I think he's playing very well. I mean, I have a lot of respect for him, a lot of respect for his competiveness, his toughness, his leadership." They have to show that what they did last week, can be done again this week.

This is a trap game where the Pats are going to need all their defensive smarts to get another victory. "I mean, we ran a lot of the calls we've been running all year. I said after the game, I think everyone kind of felt that feeling of like our backs against the wall where it was like, ‘Let's let it rip.' It's time," McCourty said. "There's no more really new guys. Like we've all been here for a while. We've all been in this system now. We've kind of run the same thing since April. That's plenty of time to understand what we're doing defensively. Let's just go out there and let it fly.

"I think our plan now is that it's not just last Thursday. It's now this is who we've become for the rest of the season and our coaching staff is on us about being aggressive, playing fast. I think after the Carolina game, you come out of a game like that, that's the only response. We didn't turn on the film and say, ‘Dang, if we had this scheme in or that scheme.' Like that was just all us as players of not playing well and doing what we need to do. That was good to see guys just coming out with the mentality of we're going to play fast, we're going to play hard and if we're wrong, let's all be wrong together and that will make us right." They are going to need a similar effort again this week.

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