One of the beauties of Thanksgiving football is that you know you’ve got an entire nation of turked-up fans and semi-fans at least gazing in the general vicinity of the TV. For the Patriots, this proved to be very fortunate – it was an opportunity to instill a bit more fear in their opponents and their fans across the league. For the Jets, well, they probably feel like the guy who got pantsed immediately after taking the Thanksgiving Day Plunge.
Obviously this game got out of control in a big way, fast. After a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots reeled off 35 points in the second quarter en route to a 49-19 victory. Rex Ryan, who referred to Tom Brady as a “machine” early this week, seemed more obsessed than ever with stopping the man who has single-handedly ruined his professional life as of late. In 65 plays from scrimmage the Jets would match up with 5 or more defensive backs an amazing 56 times. But get this – the Patriots lined up 3 or more wide receivers on less than a quarter of those snaps. Despite almost every receiver being double teamed, Tom Brady averaged 11.5 yards per attempt and passed for 3 touchdowns (while running one in himself). For the Brady haters out there, chew on that for a bit.
But beyond all the crazy statistics that came out of this game, it also served as a perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on the men that lead both teams. “I’ll put it to you this way,” said Rex Ryan. “We’re about as wounded as you possibly can be, but we’re not dead.” Belichick, on the other hand, won the 200th game of his career. Perhaps more impressively, his Patriots improved to 19-0 in the second half of the season since 2010 (an NFL record). Given that Belichick has had very young teams, nothing could speak more to the coach’s ability to take in a young group in the preseason and turn them into contenders through a system of week to week improvement.
While I’m sure Belichick washed down this win with a celebratory glass of eggnog, this was undoubtedly one of the toughest losses of Rex Ryan’s career. Despite being a Patriots fan, I’ve long voiced mostly positive opinions of Rex. Sure, he’s a clown and he talks way too much, but I’ve always gotten his schtick. I maintain that if I was a player, I’d be happy to play for Rex. But after years of guarantees gone wrong, of soundbites about being happy Gronk is out against the Jets, of locker room chemistry issues and most importantly, of shotty on-field coaching, Rex now has nowhere to hide. No one feels bad for him, and he has only himself to blame. If he doesn’t turn things around real quick, I suspect it’s just a matter of time before he’s shown the door.
Oh yea, and remember Julian Edelman? That hockey player trapped in the midst of one of the best football teams in the NFL? Yes, he’s still seeing sideways.