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Knee Jerk Reactions, Week 16: Patriots vs. Jets

Things to consider while appreciating how this Christmas brought you everything you wished for:

*Usually at this point in the season, the Patriots start to play their best football. This year it’s different. They’re not just beating teams; they’re breaking their will. Last week the Broncos locker room broke out in a giant family argument. This weekend Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson had an airing of the grievances. Plus Denver and Baltimore lost feats of strength and got bounced from playoff contention. And other teams’ quarterbacks are dropping like distracting tinsel. It’s one big Festivus miracle.

*Opponents aren’t just walking away from these losses saying they can’t beat the Pats. They’re saying everything they believe is false. Their existence is a lie. God is a superstition. Hope is dead. The Patriots right now are that perfect family up the street who gets everything they want then goes around the neighborhood caroling, just to spread their own cheer and make your brokeass, dysfunctional family even more miserable.

*This run the Pats are on, and this total, scorched Earth ass kicking, are validations of Belichick’s system on both sides of the ball. Because look at some of the people he’s crushing souls with. Elandon Roberts. Eric Rowe. He replaced Darrelle Revis with Malcolm Butler. Swapped out Jamie Collins for Shea McClellin. Was forced to sub Kyle Van Noy for Dont’a Hightower and Matt Lengel for Rob Gronkowski. But everyone I just mentioned is where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. Understands their role. Does. His. Job. And so the drop off in athleticism is negated by the scheme.

*Consider how many key plays were made by those aforementioned … I don’t want to say “nobodies.” But non-superstars. Replaceable parts. Death Star Stormtroopers. Malcolm Butler picks off a throw from Bryce Petty in which he ran the route better than Robby Anderson did. Roberts reads the fullback perfectly, is in motion before the handoff and penetrates to force a fumble. Rowe mirrors Marshall stride-for-stride with his eyes one the ball for the interception. Lengel has Juston Burris playing outside leverage on him, reads the same middle of the field open (MOFO) in the end zone that Martellus Bennett scored on, breaks for the inside and Brady hits him.

*That’s four guys combined making less this year than Revis made in the time it took me to type the paragraph, playing key roles on a 13-2 team because they understand the system. Belichick is winning “Master Chef” using secret ingredients of Ramen Noodles and ketchup packets.

*Matt Patricia, while playing primarily the same 4-2-5 base with Cover-2 in the back, continues to add wrinkles. My favorite one is this game being a rather obscure third-and-4 early on when Rob Ninkovich just randomly popped up at middle linebacker. McClellin showed blitz but dropped off into zone and then Nine Inch Nails-kovich came on a delayed blitz to force an incompletion and a punt.

*The best part – aside from that little matter of the Pats winning by 38 points – is that this was a statement game for the Jets. Playing a team they hate. With a coach who had just crawled out of a hospital bed to be there. This wasn’t a test of what kind of team they are. That issue was settled in September. This was a statement about what kind of men they are. And the answer is, the kind who can shave without looking because there’s no way any of them should be able to face a mirror again.

*I’m sure Todd Bowles is a respectable guy. Mostly because I keep hearing what a respectable guy he is. But he was hoping for some kind of Gipper moment out of his men after his health scare, he had another thing coming.

*With his team down 27-0 in the 3rd, Revis whiffs on a LeGarrette Blount run where he acted like he was being asked to tackle a speeding snowplow. A few plays later, Richardson taps out of the game with … something. A bruised ego, maybe. Revis then negates a third down incompletion by holding Chris Hogan in the end zone. Then Calvin Pryor takes a turn pretending to want to tackle Blount but not really, and LG follows a James Develin block on David Harris to make it a 34-point game that was not as close as the score would indicate.

*On the subsequent kickoff, a Pats penalty gave them the choice between the ball on the 28 or a re-kick. Bowles chose poorly. The re-kick was muffed and put the ball on the 14 instead. Followed by that false start on “everybody but the center” that had the referee cracking himself up worse than Jimmy Fallon. Bowles might be respected, but he still inherited Delta House from Rex Ryan and he’s not going to turn them into Lambda Lambda Lambda in only two years.

*One last thing about the Jets. That decision to kick the field goal was the most Jets moment since the Buttfumble. And a total misreading of the human element the message it would send. It’s as if Bowles didn’t know how to handle the moment so he just said “Alexa? What should a football team do losing 41-0 in field goal range?”

*I’m starting to think Julian Edelman no longer has assigned routes. That he and Brady just have an emotional link that connects them. Like that scramble when Brady went all Crazy Ivan around the back of the pocket to buy time and found him wide open deep. They’re just feeling each other’s feelings now, like E.T. and Elliot. I bet under those pads, Edelman’s heart was glowing.

*Another week, another dominating performance by the offensive line. Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson are about the best D-line pairing in the league, and they did no more than Von Miller, Terrell Suggs, Aaron Donald or J.J. Watt did. When my kid’s clothes are as clean as Brady’s uniform was Saturday, I make them take them out of the hamper and put them back in the closet.

*This week’s Applicable Movie Quote: “Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me a warped, frustrated, old man. What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help.” – Mr. Potter, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

*This was the rare Jets game where Belichick let up on them. First by putting Cyrus “The Human Muffed Punt” Jones in to field kicks, and then Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G is a victory cigar in the shape of the love interest from a Rachel Platt video. So seeing 3rd quarter snaps is a rare treat. And you don’t expect to ever see The Hooded One take his boot off the Jets’ neck. All I can assume is Bowles must have used the safety word.

*The one and only downside of all this success against non-competitive opponents is we get subjected to the bottom of the roster broadcast crews. Which means we’ve heard a lifetime of Dan Fouts this season. Sweet mother of God he can be awful. Notwithstanding his terrible banter with Ian Eagle where they try to kill time naming Santa’s reindeer or whatever. It’s like they’re two aliens who’ve taken human form trying to imitate how Earth people interact. But how many calls every game can he be dead wrong about? Devin Smith had a terrible drop in the end zone that Fouts insisted was tipped by Rowe, as we were watching the ball sail six inches over Rowe’s fingers. And non-calls committed against the Patriots (Burris tackling Hogan in the end zone) remain invisible to him.

*Still, Fouts is not my most hated person on TV right now. Without a doubt, that dishonor goes to that miserable little shit who goes online to bitch about her grandparents Wifi. Believe me, Nana and Grampa, by enabling this little ingrate, you are creating a monster. You should refuse to give her your password, just to do the world a favor. Let her come to my kids’ grandmother’s house and listen to her Christmas CDs that sound like Gregorian chants. See how she likes spending the holidays living in our Nana Republic and she’ll never cyberbully you two beautiful, loving elders again.

*It was nice to see Belichick empty the bench further by getting Michael Floyd involved. Admittedly, I wouldn’t let him onto the field without taking him out to the 50 to prove he can do the nine steps walk & turn test and count backwards from 99. But it’s better than relying on Griff Whalen.

*In case you need a reason to stay in a hating mood in the middle of all this winning, bear this in mind: Because Goodell suspended Brady and a wounded Jacoby Brissett lost to Buffalo hours before he needed hand surgery, Oakland would win a tiebreaker over the pats. So this next game against Miami counts. It’s not much to go on, but we need to take whatever rage we can get.

Jerry has a book! “From Darkness to Dynasty: The First 40 Years of the New England Patriots” has been called “the perfect book for any reader who is a die-hard Pats fan.” It’s of available now online and at bookstores everywhere. Details and scheduled book signings are at JerryThornton.net.