"Do Your Job," 2023 Edition: Mac's Big Moment
The Pats get win number one after a gritty win over the Jets. PIC: David Silverman, New England Patriots
It's no secret that the brand of football in New England is different than what it used to be.
We all know what it was. The glory days were the feelings of knowing when Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Jerod Mayo, and countless other strapped up, odds were it'd be a beatdown. The confidence they exuded, the way they played their games "downhill," and an uncontrollable desire to win were all palpable.
Make no mistake - those days are gone. The football in Foxboro isn't a "sure thing" anymore - in fact, it's the opposite. With every waking moment, you never know who will be the next to make a bad read, or lose a football, or struggle through against a bad opponent.
That's what the last few games against the New York Jets have been like. Sunday was no exception; the 15-10 win was all defense, all worry, and not that many bright spots. It was the 15th straight for the Pats, but it just didn't feel like they deserved it; they missed 11 third down chances, they missed 2 field goals, and they didn't make one trip to the red zone. While Miami racked up over 700 total yards and found the end zone 10 times, the Pats scored a grand total of 1 touchdown. "Ugly" may not even describe it adequately.
It's been par for the course. If not for last year's epic Marcus Jones punt return to end the game 10-3, it might not have been such a cheery story for the Pats.
So, yes, the Pats got their first win and continued their dominance against the New York Jets: all things to be happy about. But there's a lot to be desired at the moment.
Finishing the game proved to be the biggest weakness on Sunday
The Pats had multiple opportunities to put the game away, but it felt like they really never could. They had so many chances to put it on ice; a few dropped passes (especially on a 3rd-and-3 by Rhamondre Stevenson), the 11 missed 3rd down conversions, and the 2 missed field goal attempts, this could've been over much earlier.
Mac Jones insisted on throwing deep on third down five times when he had less than 6 yards to go. Why? I applaud the effort to throw it deep after multiple years of wishing for this, but it feels like it's simply not ever in the right time/place.
Pharaoh Brown's first touchdown
The lone touchdown for the Pats came from six-year veteran Pharaoh Brown, who spent time previously with Cleveland, Houston, and Oakland in years past. He will be TE3 at highest this year, behind Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki, but he's been getting a handful of snaps to start the season. The Jets defense left him unmarked, and he cruised through the defenders to get on the board. Lobsters for everyone!
You can't take away a touchdown from Brown - it unquestionably helped win the game. But the Pats can't rely on blown coverages this egregious in the future.
A solid outing from Ezekiel Elliott
This week's contest was finally the one that Ezekiel Elliott looked like his old self. He rushed for 80 yards - 5 per carry - and looked comfortable in the Pats offensive system. Zeke has been on record about how much he's loving it in New England, and he finally got his day. Let's hope he avenges his former team - the Dallas Cowboys - on their home turf next week by getting into the end zone for the first time this year.