Five Things We Learned from Patriots Rout of Jets on Thanksgiving
The Patriots 49-19 disassembling of the AFC East rival New York Jets wasn’t so surprising. The Jets have been a disaster for most of the season, plagued by obvious locker room division, a quarterback crisis and a blow hard coach whose job is becoming more tenuous by the day. On top of that, they are missing perhaps their best offensive and defensive players in Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis respectively.
On the other hand, the Patriots have only gotten better as their season has gone on. Their early stumbles seem to have been put behind them, and defensively they are finding a familiar rhythm of big plays and forced turnovers that work for their weakened secondary. Even the devastating loss of Rob Gronkowski to an upper arm break was met with the return of Aaron Hernandez to help balance out the missing personnel.
All in all, everything pointed to a convincing Patriots victory. Still the Jets have had a knack – as many interdivision rivals do – for sneaking up on the Pats and pulling out unlikely upsets. Thanksgiving 2012 was not one of those days. In the blur of butt fumbles and multiple turnovers returned for touchdowns, the Sunday Night Football theme song seemed far too regal for their performance. Circus music would have been more appropriate. In fact, that might even be an insult to the circus.
So here are the five things we learned from the Patriots win over the Jets on Thanksgiving:
–Mark Sanchez is one-too-many butt fumbles over the limit. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a one-butt-fumble limit for all starting NFL quarterbacks. If you fumble after running into your own lineman’s butt, you’re out. That should be the rule. You know how they began enforcing the “Brady rule” about low hits on quarterbacks after his torn ACL put him out for the season? This should be, henceforth, the “Sanchez rule”. One butt fumble, and you lose your starting job. End of story.
–The Patriots +24 turnover differential is a game-changer. Right now, the Patriots have 14 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries and have only turned the ball over 8 times. Their dominance in turnover differential at this point in the season across the league is unprecedented. They have a particularly massive advantage in the AFC, where only three other teams even have a positive differential, with the Baltimore Raven in a distant second at +12. The Bears and Redskins are tied for the lead in the NFC at +12. For the Patriots, this is vital to their success as they still have the second worst passing defense in the league.
–Injuries at the wide receiver/ tight end positions could start becoming a problem. Julian Edelman had a standout performance on Thursday night, stepping in nicely to create opportunities without Gronkowski. Unfortunately, a brutal helmet to helmet hit left him with his bell rung pretty badly and he never returned to the game. With Gronk out 4-6 weeks minimum and Hernandez still working off the rust from missing nearly 8 weeks, the loss of Edelman would be a big hit. Wes Welker continues to shine as the leader of the receiving core, but he’ll only be able to do so much on his own.
–If Shane Vereen can stay healthy, he is a massive asset. When Shane Vereen came out of college, he was known as a talented receiving back. The Patriots had hopes that he could come in as a Kevin Faulk-type in big third down situations with dependable hands and incredible speed. That is exactly what we saw from Vereen as a compliment to Stevan Ridley’s hard-running style on Thursday night. His 83-yard touchdown reception was one of the best pass plays all season, and that’s saying something for a team that has had consistently had the most productive offense in the league.
–Rex Ryan’s shtick can no longer cover up for his massive coaching flaws. Even with the injuries to key players, Rex Ryan’s inability to keep his team from unraveling is largely due to his offensive ineptitude. When Ryan’s teams were stacked with all-pro defenders and they could skate by with a rush-first offense, the Jets were able to make it to two AFC Championship games with Sanchez at his mediocre best. Now that his “defensive mind” is being tested in more creative situations, he is falling short. And without his bravado and boasting at press conferences and in the locker room to fall back on, it’s very obvious his own players no longer trust him. This is Rex’s swan song with the Jets.