- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Picked-up pieces from second-quarter review of the Patriots' 30-27 loss to the Jets:
1. How do the Jets connect for a 22-yard gain by Jeremy Kerley on third-and-21 at the start of the quarter? It started with a four-man pass rush that didn’t come close to Geno Smith, with Chandler Jones and Chris Jones colliding with each other and taking themselves out of the play on the rush. Simply too much time for Smith. In the secondary, it looked like straight-up man coverage -- Kyle Arrington on Kerley -- and Kerley simply won the matchup as Arrington lost leverage on the route. Safety Duron Harmon came over perhaps a bit late as the throw came toward the right sideline, but that might have been asking too much for him to be a difference-maker on the play. Also some credit to Smith for a strike.
2. In the first-quarter review, the lack of size at defensive tackle was noted as well as how the Jets had success running up the middle. One way the Patriots have attempted to compensate for that is by sending linebacker Brandon Spikes downhill at the snap. One of the best examples of this came at the end of the first quarter (minus-2 yard run for Chris Ivory), and then with 8:41 remaining in the second quarter, Spikes made a terrific read and then filled the hole to stop Chris Ivory for no gain on a third-and-1 rush. When Spikes is playing downhill like that, he’s fun to watch. Spikes was excellent in this quarter.
3. Best game of the season for LeGarrette Blount as the kickoff returner, as drives in which he had a return started at the 25, 25, 17 and 22, but still nothing off the charts in an area of the game in which the Patriots have missed a spark for some time now.
4. We counted five players that punt returner Julian Edelman made miss on his 38-yard runback midway through the second quarter. That set the Patriots up with a short field, at the Jets’ 28, and was an example of good all-around complementary play -- the defense coming up with a third-and-1 stop, Edelman’s return, then the offensive capitalizing. That’s the way the Patriots need to play on a more consistent basis.
5. It’s hard to run on the Jets, but given the way the early part of the game unfolded -- with the Patriots’ defense having been on the field for all but 3 minutes, 45 seconds as the game was four minutes into the second quarter -- a pass-pass-pass-pass-pass sequence seemed like it didn’t account for the need to complement the D by allowing it more time on the sideline. That took up just 1 minute, 9 seconds. Overall in the game, the Patriots had just 20 rushing attempts. That didn’t seem like enough, especially considering six of them came on one drive (their touchdown march after Edelman’s punt return).
6. The one kickoff that Stephen Gostkowski had returned by Josh Cribbs was covered exceptionally well, with special teams captain Matthew Slater dumping Cribbs at the 15-yard line. That was a good example of how a shorter kickoff with good hang time can be even more effective than a touchback because it gives the coverage time to get down the field to make a play.
7. Defensive tackle Chris Jones' sack with 2:35 remaining in the quarter was a result of him winning his one-on-one matchup against rookie left guard Brian Winters. There seemed to a bit of a coverage element in play, as Geno Smith didn’t unload to his initial read, and Jones was there at that point, forcing Smith to elude the pocket and chasing him down. Good technique, then quickness, shown by Jones on the play.
8. The Jets had some success aligning Muhammad Wilkerson over center Ryan Wendell, with Wilkerson drawing a holding penalty and later creating a pressure. Haven’t watched enough of the Jets to know if they do that often with Wilkerson, but it seemed like a nice wrinkle to create a favorable matchup with their best front-seven defender. Wendell is scrappy, but at times, Wilkerson seemed to be too much for him.