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Knee Jerk Reaction to Week 6: Patriots vs. Jets

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Things to consider while gratefully accepting karmic retribution for 2013’s notorious #Pushgate call:
Push Rule
*Let’s get right to it. Whatever else you think about turning the Austin Serferian-Jenkins touchdown into the Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchback, we have to have an adult conversation that begins by mutually recognizing the ball came loose before he was in the end zone, and wasn’t back in his hands until he was out of bounds. You might argue the replay was inconclusive. You might argue this is part of a much bigger discussion about sports being over-officiated now. Fine. But from a practical stand point, this was as if he was running across the goal line, started juggling the ball, ran 10 yards through the back of the end zone and then tucked it away. Only condensed into about a 3 ½ foot area. Malcolm Butler and Pat Chung’s reaction were genuine. And correct. As was the reversal.

*And if you’re like me and never forget a Patriots grudge, ever, it’s hard not to remember Pushgate, which was a illegitimately bogus a call there has ever been. Not to take too deep a dive into it here, but in Week 7 of 2013, the Jets tried a game-winning overtime field goal and missed. Until the officials flagged Chris Jones for pushing Vince Wilfork into the line. The Patriots had practiced it because their reading of the rule was that you couldn’t push a teammate from the second level, and Jones and Vince were both on the line. So afterwards, the NFL actually went into their website and changed the rule was written. It was such a sketchy, black ops, Russian hacking thing to do, but all the Barstool posts I wrote about it fell on deaf ears in 44 states and the New England media who thought Pats fans were just being our usual whiny, paranoid selves. So you’ll have to pardon me if I’m not feeling like we were handed a gift yesterday. And if we were, the cosmos owed us one.

*But this will blow a hole in Trump’s theory that refs just make these calls so their wives will see them on television. While Tony Corrente was making it, poor Mrs. Corrente only got to see CBS selling pizza and insurance. Way to miss the biggest call of the year, America’s #1 network.

*Still, I look forward to the NFL changing the rule to say that crossing the goal line and going out of bounds while slapping the ball around like a bear trying to grab a salmon is a touchdown now.

*But we’ve got bigger issues. Namely this bipolar defense. Yesterday it went from Gollum to Smeagol, and then just went you thought they’d gotten things figured it out, back to Gollum again.

*By early in the 2nd quarter, they’d given up two long touchdown drives so bad they qualified for relief from FEMA. You know it’s bad when you find yourself dreading 3rd & longs, and it turns out you were right. On the two TD drives, the Jets converted on 3rd downs of 10, 8, 6 and 5 yards, plus a score on 3rd & goal. It gets to where when they do make a stop and force a punt, you want to hang a pinata.

*Worse still is when a quarterback, any quarterback, starts running with the ball and you know to a moral certainty he’s going to pick up the 1st. As Josh McCown did on that first drive with a 16-yard slow motion – I used the term loosely – “scramble.” Here’s a guy who could be carrying a Hurrycane and is maybe three years away from using balloons to fly his house to South America, and he’s breaking Cassius Marsh’s contain for a 16 yard gain. It’s frustrating as all hell, and has been since Banner Night.

*And no one’s poles were more bi than Malcolm Butler’s. First of all, it’s weird that McCown would come out targeting him as much as he did, given that Johnson Bademosi was taking virtually every snap on the opposite side. But he did. Which is a terrifying thought. It started out well enough, with a nice pass defense on a 45-yard bomb meant for Robby Anderson. Then immediately got ugly when he got turned around, leaving Anderson all alone. McCown left Butler alone long enough to hit Jermaine Kearse on deep cross against Bademosi for 16 on a 3rd & 5, but then went back to him on the 31-yard flag route to Jeremy Kerley. But from there, Butler seemed to get his shit together and the defense settled down. A long pass break up on Anderson lead to a punt. The Jets tried to establish the run, punt. Then, with McCown sitting in the pocket with all week to throw Butler perfectly baited him, jumped Anderson’s route and got the pick that set up the game-tying touchdown. So a game of extremes for him, but at the very least, his confidence is unshakable and you’ll never catch him not competing. Which counts for a lot.

*The worst indictment of this defensive unit is that when it’s Patriots ball in the 4th quarter, I find myself saying “You don’t want to be giving Josh McCown the ball back with time left on the clock.”

*All in all, I thought Bademosi was alright in his first extended, non-special teams action. It looked they had him playing off the line, with seam/deep outside responsibility, and Chung taking the curl/flat assignments. I can’t remember seeing them do that with Stephon Gilmore or Logan Ryan, but then again, I’m much better at remembering four year old grudges than this stuff.

*Although one of the best coverage plays of the game was completely missed by Dan Fouts. (I’ll give you a minute to process a revelation that shocking.) After Tom Brady’s interception, on a 3rd down, McCown rolled out on that play the Pats haven’t been able to stop all season. Instead of throwing, he turtled and let Kyle Van Noy sack him for the loss. What they didn’t show and no one mentioned was Kearse and Anderson tried to run a cross but took each other out and ended up on the ground. Officially, the cause of the sack was a friendly fire incident.

*There are still way too many issues with communication on this unit, to the point it’s alarming. Fortunately for Gilmore he wasn’t on the field for that colossal breakdown that left Kearse open for 44 yards. (Though Gilmore was still closer to Kearse on that one than some of his assignments in the Carolina game.) There was a 12 men on the field penalty. Followed shortly by Alan Branch hustling to get off the field after the Jets broke the huddle. There was a 3rd & goal late in the game when Matt Patricia was barking instructions into his headset only to end with “Whatever.” Followed by the front all lining up on the LOS with no one on the second level. After a lot of Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man gesturing, Van Noy dropped, Duron Harmon came across the formation and basically circumnavigated the globe on a blitz that forced a checkdown toss and a field goal. But I can’t imagine this is how they are drawing it up.

*I thought Josh McDaniels had a Gollum/Smeagol day for himself too. Most importantly, he did a much better job of scheming protections for Brady. The offensive line played much better, but the backs were outstanding in blitz pickup. Almost Kevin Faulkesque, which I don’t say very often. One, because Faulk was that good. And two because it’s not a very good expression. I’ll work on it.

*I mean, find a big play the Pats hit on, and I’ll show you either James White or Dion Lewis taking out a blitzer:
–The deep flag route that Brandin Cooks caught over Morris Claiborne to set up a short Gronk TD? Gronk stayed home to block, but on the backside White picked up Demario Davis.
–On the opening drive of the 2nd half, they were facing a 3rd & 13 where White and Lewis lined up as dual H-backs on both sides of a balanced front. White released while Lewis stayed home. Lewis chipped Kony Ealy, Joe Thuney chased Leonard Williams stunting to the outside, giving Brady plenty enough luxurious leg room to move up, step into his throw and hit Cooks for 19.
–Right after, it was White and Lewis again, only flanking Brady on a 3rd & 11. This time it was White staying home and picking up Terrence Brooks. Gronk ran a vertical inside Chris Hogan’s deep out, and Brady had time to let the routes develop and hit Gronk in stride for the catch and run. You didn’t have to watch Green Bay’s season break along with Aaron Rodger’s clavicle to appreciate how important that “0” in the sack column was. So good job by McDaniels and game balls to White and Lewis.

*But there were other decisions that were harder to grasp. There was minimal effort to generate a short passing game. They were running the ball effectively before Mike Gillislee’s fumble. Just power football, generating a push on the line, running jab plays behind James Develin out of offset I formations. The Jets couldn’t stop them. Then the fumble, he came out throwing three times. For two yards. Punt.

*Still, he did do a great job getting Lewis and White going in the run game before letting Gillislee out of the time out chair. By the 3rd, they were in a really solid run/pass mix you want when playing with a lead. Something they haven’t had much practice with so far this year.

*I wonder if, when the Patriots bench a guy, he has to stand over next to Dwayne Allen and David Harris. In that way Omega House kept forcing Flounder and Pinto to hang with Mohammet, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton.

*I get that the auto industry isn’t selling a product, they’re selling a lifestyle. But now they’re just insulting us. They don’t even mention cars any more. It’s all just people driving to a song. “Sweet Caroline.” ELO. Aaron Rodgers and his dog listening to the Greatest American Hero theme. I admit I never understood anything they were saying about rack & pinion steering or positonic torque suspension or whatever. I’m not Mona Lisa Vito … as she would was … in the car … expertise area. But at least they were talking over my head instead of down to me. Every ad is just Baby Driver now.

*Jamal Adams is a very, very good safety prospect. Undoubtedly the Jets drafted him with Gronk in mind. But after what Gronk did to him, the next time they face each other they’re going to need a safety word.

*This Week’s Applicable Movie Quote: “If you start out depressed everything’s kind of a pleasant surprise. ” – Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything

*Dan Fouts’ Glossary of Terms: When Brady gets hit by Kony Ealy after releasing the pass, then takes a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jordan Jenkins, that is not “roughing the passer.” That is “taking a Double Whammy.” Got it.

*Sneaky the toughest play in all of sports is for a defensive back to NOT intercept the ball on 4th down. Devin McCourty did it, admittedly on a pass that made a difference of like five or six yards. But at the end of the game, Harmon let a ball hit the ground, as you should. It just goes against their every instinct. Asking them not to catch it is the football equivalent of putting a slice of baloney on your dog’s nose and telling him not to eat it.

*I can’t wrap this up without mentioning the special teams. Just great play after great play. Ryan Allen pinning the Jets at their 3. ArDarius Stewart getting ArDrilled into the turf by Brandon King. Jeremy Kerley on the receiving end of a DDT by Jonathan Jones right where he stood. I shudder to think how bad the defense would look if they weren’t getting good field position from the coverage units.

*But not as much as I shudder at the thought of them trying to stop a Falcons offense hellbent on primetime vengeance.

*Let’s hope they catch some other Tony Corrente-level breaks, because Matt Ryan is not Josh McCown. I want to buy Corrente a Papa Johns and say “Thanks for all you do for football.”

@jerrythornton1