Whether they’re trash-talking or keeping their lips zipped, the Jets haven’t found an answer for Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in history. Yes, the Jets swiped Darrelle Revis from the Patriots this past offseason, but they need two more versions of Revis to slow down Brady.
Sunday was another cruel reminder. The Jets played a solid game and led for long stretches, but they fell 30-23 after an blizzard of Brady passes. The Patriots ignored their running game, letting Brady throw and throw. He completed 34 for 54 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns — and he was victimized by 10 dropped passes, unofficially.
The Jets (4-2) blew a chance to move into a first-place tie with the Patriots (6-0), but this was hardly a season-altering loss. Still, it was an absolute killer when they were unable to pad an early fourth-quarter lead: Brandon Marshall dropped a third-down pass in the end zone, forcing the Jets to settle for a field goal.
This wasn’t an easy day for the Jets’ offense. Chris Ivory tweaked a hamstring on his first carry, robbing him of his usual explosiveness. They had very little success on the ground, forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick to the air. That, too, was difficult because the Patriots did a nice job of neutralizing Marshall (four catches for 67 yards).
The Jets couldn’t run and the Patriots didn’t want to run, making it Fitzpatrick vs. Brady. No contest.
What were they thinking? The pass coverage, especially in the middle of the field, left a lot to be desired. They gave up a few plays in the deep middle as Brady worked on the safeties and linebackers. The Jets can cover on the perimeter with Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but it’s a different story between the numbers. Rob Gronkowski (11 catches for 108 yards, one TD) had the most catches he’s ever had in a game.
One reason to get excited: Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey deserves some credit for his play calling. Instead of becoming one-dimensional with Ivory struggling with a bad wheel, Gailey remained patient and stayed with the running game, allowing the Jets to stay balanced. He incorporated Jeremy Kerley into the offense (long overdue) and introduced a play-action rollout into the game plan, which worked a few times. His play call in the final seconds, after a recovered onside kick, was curious — a pass over the middle with no timeouts left.
One reason to panic: The Jets’ backfield is banged up, and it could affect them as they move into Week 8. Ivory has a history of lingering leg issues, so his latest injury shouldn’t be minimized. His backup, Bilal Powell, missed the game with a sprained ankle. Zac Stacy was pressed into a larger role, but he’s hardly a threat. Waiting in the wings is Stevan Ridley, who’s ready to come off the physically-unable-to-perform list. Luckily for the Jets, it will be like trading for a running back at midseason.
Fantasy watch: Not a big day. Ivory scored on a short reception, his first touchdown catch of the season.
Ouch: Center Nick Mangold suffered an apparent head/neck injury in the final minute. He walked off slowly and didn’t return. Obviously the Jets can’t afford to lose one of their most valuable players. Safety Calvin Pryor suffered an ankle injury while defending a pass to tight end Scott Chandler, and Pryor didn’t return to the game. With only three safeties on the active roster (remember, the injured Jaiquawn Jarrett was waived on Saturday), it forced recently signed Dion Bailey into full-time duty. He struggled in coverage.