- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime of the Patriots’ home opener against the Jets:
Sloppy half. Not a great advertisement -- broadcast to a national audience -- for NFL football.
The struggles continue for the Patriots’ offense. While some credit goes to the Jets’ defense -- they’re playing tough -- this isn’t the explosive unit we’ve come to expect from the Patriots.
The frustration of quarterback Tom Brady has been evident at times. These are some of the growing pains that result in playing with inexperienced receivers. Brady was hot on the sidelines after an incomplete pass on third down forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal. In the first half, the Patriots were 1 for 9 on third down.
The debut of rookie receiver Aaron Dobson has been notable and it’s reflected what we’ve seen of him since spring camps -- ups and downs.
He scored a touchdown on his first career NFL snap on a beautifully designed third-and-2 play. But in the second quarter, he couldn’t come down with a beautiful long pass from Tom Brady that could have been a touchdown. There also seemed to be some kind of miscommunication later in the second quarter near the end zone.
The Patriots could benefit from a more consistent running game to help settle things down. They are using left tackle Nate Solder as an eligible receiver (5 snaps), in hopes of getting bigger at the line of scrimmage, but it hasn’t produced the desired results and they've been more one-dimensional than desired because of it. After a fast start, they just haven’t been able to get into a rhythm.
Defensively, what a difference some pressure makes. Jets quarterback Geno Smith had too much time in the pocket until the Patriots turned things up late in the second quarter. Patriots followers had to be asking, "Where's the pass rush?"
The Patriots also haven’t been particularly sharp against the run, but a big turnover (forced by Aqib Talib, returned by Devin McCourty for 44 yards) produced three points. The Patriots are also tackling well and it’s hard to argue with just three points allowed. It helps that the Jets aren't very explosive on offense.
The Jets get the ball to start the second half.