FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers are all 2-0 in 2009. None of them made the playoffs last season, and at best, all of them were considered fringe playoff contenders before the beginning of the 2009 regular season.
Conversely, seven of last year’s 12 playoff teams already have a loss this season, including both Super Bowl participants. Three 2008 playoff contestants — the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers — are winless in 2009.
Here’s the point: A team’s record is almost completely insubstantial through two weeks of the regular season. Teams like the New England Patriots, who have shown plenty of flaws during their 1-1 start, have nearly four months to figure things out.
Two weeks of analysis is hardly enough to formulate a conclusion on a team’s fate. Since 2001, the Patriots have started 2-0 five times, and they missed the playoffs in two of those seasons while winning the Super Bowl in 2004. They also won the Super Bowl in 2001 after an 0-2 start, and in 2003 after starting 1-1.
Of the last eight Super Bowl champions, four started 2-0, two were 1-1 and two were 0-2. Seven of the last eight Super Bowl losers started their seasons 2-0, while the other was 1-1.
Doomsday has not arrived at Gillette Stadium, and Sunday’s loss to the Jets did not signify the end of the Patriots’ dynasty. Surely, the Patriots played a poor football game, but put it in this context: They couldn’t have played much worse; the Jets couldn’t have played much better; and the Patriots lost to a quality team … by just seven points … on the road.
That doesn’t sound so horrible now, does it?
Quote of the day
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis held Randy Moss to four catches for 24 yards, and while Revis gets the glory for Moss’s quiet afternoon, the third-year cornerback had plenty of help. Moss was double-teamed on every play, with the exception of some triple-teams when he lined up in the slot. Revis said after the game if Moss went to the bathroom, it was his job to cover him at the stall, too. Moss disagreed with the praise given to Revis, though.
“All week he was talking about being a shutdown corner, but there really are no shutdown corners in the league because they have help most of the game,” Moss said in his postgame news conference. “I probably could be a shutdown corner if I had [Patriots safety Brandon] Meriweather over the top for the whole game. I think I could be a corner. You have to give credit where credit is due. I’m not taking anything away from their whole defense, secondary, defensive line, linebackers. They made plays, and we didn’t get things done. You have to give credit when it’s due and they did a hell of a job today.”
1. Julian Edelman was a quarterback in the last game he played in that mattered. The Patriots converted him to wide receiver, and he caught eight passes for 98 yards while filling in for Wes Welker. Edelman still has to improve his hands, but against the Jets, he was the Patriots’ most consistent wide receiver. When Welker comes back, it might be in the Patriots’ best interest to put those two on the field at the same time, along with Randy Moss.
2. Middle linebacker Gary Guyton filled in for the injured Jerod Mayo and had a career-high and game-high 10 tackles against the Jets. He also wore the defensive headset and aligned the defense before each play, and he did a respectable job under the circumstances.
3. The Patriots’ first-half defense was solid against the Jets’ predictable offense, which ran 14 rushing plays (59 yards) and six passing plays (-2 net yards). New York’s game plan was clearly to establish its ball-control offense, and the Patriots took that away from them instantly. The Patriots’ defense played well enough to give the offense a chance to take over the game, but they only managed three field goals, including two when the line of scrimmage was inside the 13-yard line.
1. Joey Galloway caught five passes for 53 yards, which is a nice number on the surface. However, he was targeted 12 times and had some key drops (granted, in a seven-point loss, all drops are key drops), and he also got flagged for illegal formation in the second quarter. To be fair, a few throws in Galloway’s direction weren’t catchable, but without the proper chemistry with Tom Brady, it’s tough for Galloway to make the necessary route adjustments on certain plays that could go for a solid gains or first downs. It’s also apparent that Galloway has a tough time making the difficult catch, whether it’s because he has gotten hit by a cornerback or just can’t reach out to haul in anything away from his body.
2. Bill Belichick is praised as a master of preparation, but once it became evident Sunday that the Jets’ blitzes were too much for the offensive line, tight ends and running backs to handle, it didn’t seem like proper adjustments had been made. The passing routes took too long, and the check-downs weren’t there. Plus, it was curious to see running back Kevin Faulk on the sideline throughout the majority of the game, as Faulk is the Patriots’ best back in passing schemes because he can block and catch passes. Whether these decisions were made by Belichick or quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien, who calls the offensive plays, is inconclusive.
3. Tom Brady also deserves some of the blame for the play calls because he wasn’t able to direct his blockers toward the Jets’ blitzers, and he didn’t get his receivers to run quick enough routes to compensate for his lack of time in the pocket. Some of that has to do with his lack of on-field chemistry with Galloway and Edelman, but either way, the offense was never in sync because the adjustments were never carried out.
4. The Patriots’ second-half defense just wasn’t good enough in relation to what the game called for. They surrendered 13 points, and the Jets’ three second-half scoring drives totaled 28 plays and 13:23, which consumed nearly a full quarter. The Jets had the ball for 17:51 in the second half and ran 35 plays. Their balanced offense kept the Patriots guessing throughout the half, as the Jets ran 18 passing plays for 139 net yards (Mark Sanchez completed 11-of-17 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown in the second half) and 17 rushing plays for 60 yards.
5. Special teams captain Sam Aiken was flagged twice against the Jets, and his unit was out-played throughout the day.