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Grading the strong finish to the regular season – Boston Herald

Grading the strong finish to the regular season – Boston Herald

FOXBORO — How a lot inventory ought to we put into the concept of the Patriots establishing momentum heading into the playoffs?

Properly, the previous two years, the Pats closed out strong, shredding AFC East opponents in Weeks 16 and 17 by a mean rating of 35-10. Tremendous Bowl appearances adopted.

In 2015, they stumbled into the postseason, dropping a pair of division video games in the remaining two weeks. They have been then tripped up in the AFC Championship Recreation at Denver. There have been definitely warning indicators that the 2015 staff was heading in the flawed course.

For all the inconsistencies the 2018 Patriots have endured, they couldn’t have ended the regular season on a greater word.

The Pats annihilated the Jets, 38-Three, to seize the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The passing assault acquired on monitor. The protection was smothering. There have been few flaws of their efficiency, even when it was towards an inferior, eager-for-vacation opponent.

Whether or not this transfers to the playoffs stays to be seen.

For now, let’s take a look at the grades from the Pats’ Week 17 win:

QUARTERBACK: A-minus

It was crucial to get Tom Brady and the passing recreation out of its funk.

Towards the Steelers and Payments, Brady appeared uncharacteristically jumpy in the pocket. He broke down at the menace of strain and by no means appeared snug.

There was an enormous distinction in his play on Sunday.

On Brady’s 17-yard landing to James White, he stood in the pocket patiently because it collapsed and waited for White to break his route inside.

On a second-quarter incompletion in the pink zone, Brady absorbed successful from Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins as he launched. Although the ball was thrown excessive, Brady exhibited composure and pocket presence (he rolled out and hit Phillip Dorsett for a nine-yard landing in the again of the finish zone on the subsequent play).

Brady’s arm power stood out as nicely. He fired an 18-yard strike to Julian Edelman on a submit route at the finish of the first quarter.

There have been just a few throws Brady would really like to take again, together with lacking a large open Chris Hogan in the finish zone early in the second quarter.

RUNNING BACK: B-minus

The flexibility of the Patriots’ backfield was on show, as James White and Rex Burkhead each caught landing passes.

Burkhead’s play was a terrific design. The Pats used James Develin in the backfield and cut up out Burkhead as a receiver. The Jets, in base protection to counter the Patriots’ two-back look, appeared to be confused at the snap.

Linebacker Avery Williamson was late to cowl Burkhead, who took a number of steps to the inside earlier than veering his route downfield and to the outdoors. Brady hit him for the 18-yard rating.

The Pats have been strong on the floor, however not dominant like they’d been towards the Payments.

There are nonetheless too many points on short-yardage carries. White was stuffed on consecutive third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 carries at the finish of the first half. Sony Michel, operating a bit too upright, received slammed to the floor by Williamson on a third-and-1 in the late third quarter.

Michel made a pleasant learn on a 14-yard carry in the third quarter. He broke via the deal with of cornerback Derrick Jones at the 5-yard mark, however was taken down by security Rontez Miles, who was the final line of protection. Michel was a half-step away from breaking an 80-yard landing.

WIDE RECEIVER: B-plus

Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett mixed to play 90 snaps towards the Payments with out receiving a single goal.

On Sunday, the duo mixed for 16 targets. Dorsett caught all 5 of his, together with the nine-yard landing and a third-and-Three conversion on New England’s first scoring drive.

Hogan caught passes on three straight performs in the fourth quarter, totaling 42 yards. The 20-yard reception was on a well-contested deep comeback route.

Julian Edelman continued his regular 2018 marketing campaign. He led the Patriots with 69 yards. Over the ultimate 9 weeks of the regular season, Edelman failed to attain 65 receiving yards solely as soon as. He averaged 78.1 yards per recreation in that span.

TIGHT END: C-plus

Rob Gronkowski had a powerful 30-yard catch-and-run referred to as again due to a questionable Dwayne Allen move interference penalty.

Gronkowski caught the ball operating towards the sideline, turned upfield, and cruised by means of the tried deal with of Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins for 11 yards after contact. There are nonetheless glimpses of greatness from Gronk; it’s simply not constant. He completed with two receptions for 24 yards.

Each Gronkowski and Allen contributed as blockers. Allen, aligning as the fullback, met center linebacker Neville Hewitt in the gap to spring Sony Michel for a 14-yard achieve in the third quarter.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B-plus

For the most half, Tom Brady had loads of time to look downfield. A few of the Patriots’ greatest performs in the passing recreation — like a 20-yard deep comeback by Chris Hogan and an 18-yard laser to Julian Edelman — required Brady to maintain the ball.

Trent Brown and Joe Thuney despatched Jordan Jenkins to the floor on Brady’s nine-yard landing move to Dorsett. As Jenkins fell, he took out defensive deal with Henry Anderson. The remainder of the line held up, giving Brady time to drift to his proper and discover Dorsett.

The damaging performs have been few and much between. In a one-minute span throughout the second quarter, Brown was referred to as for a maintain and allowed a quarterback hit to Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins.

In the fourth quarter, Marcus Cannon whiffed when he went low to block Leonard Williams, who corralled Brady for the sack.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A

The Patriots dominated at the level of assault.

Danny Shelton, who was a wholesome scratch in Weeks 13-15, wrecked a number of Jets operating performs. Late in the first quarter, the 335-pound Shelton discarded Jets guard Brian Winters to stuff Elijah McGuire for no achieve (this was a theme all through the afternoon). On a third-and-Three in the second quarter, Shelton blew up the play from the inside, permitting Elandon Roberts and Lawrence Man to make the deal with.

Man was all over the place on Sunday. He recorded his first sack of the season and managed the line of scrimmage.

Ten of McGuire’s 18 dashing makes an attempt went for no achieve or unfavourable yardage.

Trey Flowers capped the greatest season of his four-year profession with one other standout efficiency. He stripped McGuire early in the second quarter, establishing a brief subject for the Patriots offense. On the opening possession of the second half, he roasted Jets deal with Brent Qvale for a third-down sack. Flowers additionally offered the preliminary strain on Adam Butler’s strip-sack of Darnold in the third quarter.

Second-year professional Derek Rivers recorded the first sack of his profession.

LINEBACKER: A

Elandon Roberts was in on 5 tackles of Elijah McGuire at or behind the line of scrimmage.

In the early second quarter, Kyle Van Noy set the edge, permitting Roberts to fly in and drop McGuire two yards behind the line. Roberts and Malcom Brown teamed to stuff McGuire on a fourth-and-1 carry in the third quarter. As soon as once more, Van Noy was an important a part of the play. He took on the pulling guard in the gap and knocked him backward, creating visitors and making it troublesome for McGuire to navigate the operating lane.

Van Noy flashed his athleticism by operating stride-for-stride with tailback Trenton Cannon on a deep incompletion down the sideline. Two performs later, he scooped up a Sam Darnold fumble and returned it 46 yards for a landing.

Dont’a Hightower set the tone early with a run stuff at the 11:12 mark of the first quarter.

DEFENSIVE BACK: A-minus

Jets receiver Robby Anderson merely couldn’t cope with Stephon Gilmore’s physicality.

Sam Darnold focused Anderson versus Gilmore to no avail on a third-and-11, third-and-9 and a fourth-and-Three. The latter two passes have been damaged up by Gilmore.

Anderson, who got here in averaging 104 yards over his previous three video games, caught two passes for 11 yards when matched up with Gilmore.

Rookie J.C. Jackson has taken over as the full-time No. 2 cornerback. He’s been terrific, too. On a third-and-Four in the third quarter, Andre Roberts shook Gilmore, however Jackson swooped in to drop him in need of the marker.

Rookie Keion Crossen performed in dime packages. He was crushed by Deontay Burnett for positive aspects of 25 and 22 yards on third downs.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Stephen Gostkowski made all six of his kicks. Protection models have been wonderful towards Andre Roberts, however there’s room for enchancment. In the second quarter, Roberts introduced again a kickoff for 32 yards to give the Jets possession at the New England 34-yard line.

Ryan Allen averaged solely 39.eight yards per punt on the day. He angled a number of of his punts towards the sideline to make them troublesome for Roberts to return.

COACHING: A

Josh McDaniels referred to as a balanced recreation and allowed Tom Brady to get rolling. That was precedence No. 1 for the offense.

McDaniels additionally did a pleasant job exploiting mismatches towards the Jets linebackers on landing passes to James White and Rex Burkhead. Two straight White runs on third-and-short and fourth-and-short at the finish of the first half appeared like questionable play calls, however the recreation was beneath management by that time. The Pats didn’t need to take any dangers earlier than the half.

Defensively, Brian Flores didn’t want to do something unique. The Patriots gained the battle at the line of scrimmage and every little thing else fell in place from there. Figuring out Stephon Gilmore will erase an opponent’s No. 1 receiver definitely makes Flores’ job simpler.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Tom Brady: Passing recreation bounced again properly.

Stephon Gilmore: Has a strong case for first-team All-Professional.

Lawrence Man: Quietly one among the most constant performers on the protection.

BACK OF THE PACK

Sony Michel/short-yardage operating recreation: The Pats want to be extra constant on third-and-short. Michel performed comparatively properly general, however might do a greater job creating yards after contact and making defenders miss.

Marcus Cannon: Missed on a minimize block, which led to a sack of Tom Brady. Most weeks, this wouldn’t qualify as a “back of the pack” efficiency, however that’s a sign of the Patriots’ dominance on Sunday.