FOXBORO — For the Patriots, Week 3 had a familiar script. Fast start by the offense, dominant defense, blowout win.
Just as the Steelers and Dolphins provided little competition, the Jets were similarly no match for the Patriots, especially starting a third-string quarterback during the 30-14 loss. Luke Falk had a miserable day against the Patriots defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown (the Jets scored on a pick-six and muffed punt). Even with Le'Veon Bell, the Jets mustered just 105 yards of total offense.
The Patriots offense scored on its first three series.Tom Brady threw for 300 yards and two TDs, as Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett were ample targets after a week of Antonio Brown drama. A first-place showdown against fellow undefeated Buffalo awaits in Week 4.
But first, here are the position-by-position grades:
Tom Brady was very good, for the most part. He was worthy of an A-minus, though his understudy brings the overall grade down a bit. But we'll get to Stid the Kid in a minute.
Brady was on fire from the moment he emerged from the tunnel, going 11-for-13 for 128 yards and two touchdowns on the first three series. He was especially effective using play-action during those scoring drives. He cooled off in the second half, perhaps partly due to the loss of Julian Edelman, but the Patriots had already done enough damage. He finished the day 28-for-42 for 306 yards with a pair of TDs. He remained clean on the season, throwing no interceptions. Brady was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter with the Patriots leading 30-7 with 8:41 to play, but later returned after backup Jarrett Stidham threw a pick-6 that decreased the lead to 30-14. Stidham sailed a ball over Brandon Bolden's head. Stidham's one job was to maintain the lead and take care of the ball. Bad mistake on an easy throw.
RUNNING BACK: C
While the passing attack was pretty consistent throughout the afternoon, the same can't be said for the run game. The Jets defense did come in better against the run, and the numbers reflected that. Collectively, the group had 68 yards on 27 carries (2.5 yards per rush average). Sony Michel had a 5-yard touchdown run to open the scoring, but overall he had just 11 yards on nine carries. It was reminiscent of Week 1, when he had 14 yards on 15 carries against the Steelers. Michel didn't have battering ram James Develin (neck injury) clearing space in front. The Pats opened with a two-back set, mostly with Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden, who was utilized with James White missing the game due to the birth of his child. Bolden made a couple plays in the opening drive, getting open for Brady and catching passes. The versatile Burkhead moved the chains with six catches on seven targets for 22 yards.
WIDE RECEIVER: A
Without Antonio Brown, there's a new Big Three in the receiver room and all of them produced. Josh Gordon didn't get into the end zone, but he made huge plays, including two highlight reel catches with a dislocated finger. His acrobatic catch down the left sideline to set up a Burkhead score in the third quarter was a gem. He flew high to corral the ball with Darryl Roberts on his wing and managed to keep his feet inbounds for a 28-yard gain. Then he made another 22-yard circus catch down the middle. His compete-level was noteworthy.
Julian Edelman, meanwhile, left the game at the end of the first half with a rib injury. He was terrific when he was in, catching seven passes for 62 yards. He made tough catches on low bullets from Brady, and turned several into gains to move the chains.
As for Phillip Dorsett, his consecutive catch streak might have ended on a close play that Bill Belichick challenged, but he was still effective (six catches, 53 yards, touchdown). After Edelman's exit, rookie Jakobi Meyers also pitched in with two catches for 38 yards.
TIGHT END: B
With Matt LaCosse out (ankle) and Benjamin Watson serving the third of his four-game suspension, Ryan Izzo was the lone tight end. He wasn't hugely noticeable save for one play. It came on the opening scoring series. Brady made a tremendous play-fake, sucking in the Jets linebackers, before delivering the ball to a wide open Izzo, who advanced it 41 yards. He didn't do much as a blocker in the run game.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
During the week, Dante Scarnecchia said he wasn't going to overthink his injury situation on the line and make multiple moves. That's never a good idea. The return of Marcus Cannon plugged up one hole at right tackle, while Scar inserted Marshall Newhouse at left tackle for Isaiah Wynn, who was placed on IR during the week. Newhouse, a free agent acquired only two weeks ago, wasn't perfect but he was good enough against Tarell Bashem. The line as a whole held up well against Gregg Williams' aggressive front. Brady wasn't sacked, while Stidham was taken down once by Neville Hewitt in the fourth quarter. The grade would have been better if not for the 2.5 rushing average, although great blocks were thrown on the rushing touchdowns by Michel (Shaq Mason, Ted Karras) and Burkhead (Newhouse).
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
The focus was obviously on shutting down Le'Veon Bell, and holding him to 35 yards on 18 carries (1.9 average) was a job well done. The Patriots defensive line manhandled the Jets offensive line all day. Danny Shelton was immense in the middle, making six tackles. John Simon was also a presence. He made several plays on Bell, stopping the back on third down, both on catch plays coming out of the back field, and taking him down for losses on rushes.
Michael Bennett continuously pushed the pocket. He had a sack, while Chase Winovich and Adam Butler had half sacks.
Jamie Collins was all over the field making plays. He was a man among boys, topping the team with two sacks and seven tackles. He was a royal pain to Luke Falk, generating pressure and nearly picking him off. Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy, who were credited with half sacks, also played well. They forced the issue with blitzes and stunts up the middle. Elandon Roberts and Ja'Whaun Bentley also chipped in with stops of Bell in the run game.
DEFENSIVE BACK: A
Luke Falk is not only going to have nightmares about the Patriots front-seven, but the secondary won't be too far behind. The Pats sacked the Jets quarterback five times, but several of those were coverage sacks.
Falk completed just 12-of-22 passes for 98 yards. He connected on just one pass more than 20 yards, a 23-yard completion to former Patriot Braxton Berrios when J.C. Jackson jumped the route and missed the pick. Receiver Robby Anderson popped off during the week saying Stephon Gilmore, while great, got away with holding. That remark didn't do him any favors. Gilmore held him to three catches for 11 yards, nailing him with a hard, but clean tackle after his final catch for good measure. The safeties all played great. Patrick Chung was terrific in the run game. Duron Harmon made a good open-field hit to knock the ball out of the hands of Jamison Crowder and prevent a completion. Devin McCourty, meanwhile, notched his team-leading third interception.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus
After missing his first PAT attempt, pushing the ball to the right, Stephen Gostkowski made the rest of his kicks on the day. That included three other PATs and a field goal. His kicking is a bit of a concern, given the PAT miss was his third of the season, two more than he had in all of 2018 (49-for-50).
Also bringing the grade down, of course, was Gunner Olszewski's gaffe. He muffed a punt deep in Patriots territory, allowing the Jets to score their first touchdown and get back into the game.
On the plus-side, rookie Jake Bailey was terrific punting, kicking them long and deep, and also pinned five of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line. Matthew Slater made a terrific play, keeping one of the kicks out of the endzone to have Jon Jones down it on the one-yard-line after the Jets made it a two score game.
First, Belichick made sure the Antonio Brown situation wasn't a distraction. It's like he never existed. Second, they came out of the gate strong by scoring on their first three series. Josh McDaniels scripted a terrific opening series. He no longer had Brown, and also didn't have James White and James Develin at his disposal. He started with a two-back set with Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden, and Brady led the offense down the field in a well-executed, well-planned 9-play, 88-yard drive. Later, he had to deal with the loss of Julian Edelman. The running game never got going, but with the Jets much stronger against the run, there was no need to force it. McDaniels sprinkled it in just enough to set up play-action, which was very effective early on. He just recognizes the strengths of his personnel.
Defensively, the Patriots had Falk making his first NFL start, and whether it was Belichick, Jerod Mayo or Steve Belichick making the calls, they were going to have some fun, throwing different looks up front, sending different pressures, mixing in blitzers. But the main goal was to stop Le'Veon Bell to force Falk to throw. Bell's longest gain was eight yards. On the day, he rushed for 35 yards on 18 carries.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
LB Jamie Collins Led the team in sacks (2), tackles (7) and was generally all over the field.
WR Josh Gordon Got banged up, busted a finger, still made big-time plays in coverage to help set up scores.
P Jake Bailey Helped win the field position battle. Five of his seven punts were downed inside the 20 yard line.
BACK OF THE PACK
WR Gunner Olszewski Everyone's favorite underdog botched a punt and handed over a touchdown. Just can't do that.
QB Jarrett Stidham Making Tom Brady return during garbage time is never a good idea. Air-mailing a throw for a pick-six was unacceptable.
RB Sony Michel/running game Michel did score a touchdown, but it's hard to brag when your stat line reads 11 yards on nine carries.