Patriots week 17 bulletin, in the Jaguars 50-10 blowout
Woeful Jacksonville was exactly what the doctor ordered
The Patriots had been fighting for two weeks, playing sloppy and uninspired football, and needed a win and a little help to secure a playoff berth. They had to clean up their game in all areas, reduce errors, force a few turnovers and start playing the kind of football they had been playing for seven straight weeks again. More than anything else, the Patriots had to get off to a much better start as the previous first two halves were smelly.
Enter the distressing Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags came in 2-13 and are… a really bad football team. Add more than a dozen players with COVID-19, including several starters and a good chunk of their offensive line. It will heal what hurts you.
The Patriots got off to a good start with the defense scoring a sack and a three-and-out with the offense scoring touchdowns in their first five discs in a resounding 50-10 win that was as easy as the score suggests.
Yes, they were supposed to dismantle the Jaguars. But we’ve seen some crazy stuff this season, so nothing can be taken for granted in 2021… now 2022. Clean up? How about 6-6 in the red zone and 8-10 on 3rd down? It’s awesome no matter who you play, even the Jaguars. After the Patriots started 2-4, they scored 54 points on the Jets and that put the team on a seven-game winning streak. After putting together an impressive 50 burger in Jacksonville, the team has some confidence heading into the final week of the regular season and the playoffs.
So here are our position papers this week for the Patriots-Jaguars game. There was not much to be dissatisfied on Sunday. And the ratings reflect it.
Mac Jones followed his worst outing of the season with arguably his best. Jones would take quick readings and get the ball out quickly, accurately and accurately. His numbers reflect that, completing 22-30 for 227 with 3 TD and 0 INT for a passer rating of 128.1. His first two touchdowns were very good throws, the first was a fake Jet Sweep to Kendrick Bourne and rolling to his right, Jones was patient and hit Kristian Wilkerson (more on him below), the along the end zone for his 1st NFL touchdown.
His second touchdown was a nice pass as the Jaguars came up with a blitz, and he exposed it perfectly as Jakobi Meyers ran a fade in the back of the end zone where Jones dropped him straight in the bucket. Perfect execution. His third TD pass was perhaps the easiest he’ll ever get.
The offensive sent Bourne a fake bubble screen on the left side. Wilkerson was pulled aside and acted like he was going to block. The cornerback took a full bite of the false screen and Wilkerson had only one empty field in front of him. Easy throw and catch for six.
He gave Wilkerson an even better pitch later, a 45-yard bomb in the end zone that was right in his hands. But Wilkerson let him down, which could have (should have) been his third touchdown of the day. A great rebound game for Jones, who was replaced by Brian Hoyer with around 11 minutes left.
The running backs: one
Damien Harris started the game and Jacksonville, trying to remove a page from the Buffalo book, stacked the box and attempted to suppress the run. But Harris was efficient early on and scored two touchdowns, running with a mixture of vision and tenacity.
Rhamondre Stevenson came in and took over 19 times for 107 yards with two more touchdowns, showing the tenacity and ability to absorb the first hit and continue he has shown all season.
Brandon Bolden and Harris contributed with 3 receptions for 33 yards in the passing game, but they weren’t a big part of the passing game plan in this one. When Harris and Stevenson are both healthy and available, this racing game is hard to stop.
Wide receivers: A-
Jakobi Meyers caught eight passes on eight targets for 73 yards and a touchdown. Bourne caught five passes for 76 yards on six targets and added 17 more on two points. With Nelson Agholor still on concussion protocol and N’Keal Harry a healthy scratch, Kristian Wilkerson got to see his first extended offensive shots of his career.
Not only did he register his first NFL reception on a great catch, but he also scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career, scoring 4 catches for 42 yards with 2 touchdowns. He should have had three, Jones directed him perfectly and he has to hang on to it. But he’s shown enough of it that we’re seeing more of him next week in Miami, even with Agholor back.
Gunner Olszewski even made a catch for 9 yards. Overall a very good day for this group. If Wilkerson could have retained third place, the score would have been even higher.
Tight ends: B
The tight ends had a very solid game and it started with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith providing excellent blocking up front in the running game. Josh McDaniels said earlier last week he needed to get Smith more involved in the offense. And he’s done a bit of it this week, with Smith rushing for a 5-yard gain, then picking up a 20-yard pass. Barely upsetting stuff there, but it’s a great start.
Henry was back to providing his solid production in the passing game, carrying 3 assists for 37 yards. A good rebound week for this group as well.
Offensive line: A
The offensive line was excellent on Sunday. Jones was not sacked and barely touched. The only sack the Jaguars seemed to be getting was wiped out by a ticky-tack penalty for roughing up the QB.
When OL give up no sacks, no QB hits and opens holes for the running game to extend over 181 yards and 5.0 yards per stroke, that means they were dominating in the trenches. And they were. So it was no surprise when they scored the first five times they had the ball.
Defensive line: B +
The defensive line put good pressure on Trevor Lawrence and forced him to move into the pocket and helped force three interceptions in the day. Christian Barmore had a sack just before half-time that dashed any hope for the Jaguars to come back. He continues to impress. Lawrence Guy had a solid game and had two tips on the slopes.
Passing through most of the game, because of the scoring, the DL didn’t have a good run defense game allowing 80 yards on 17 carries (4.7 yards average). Deatrich Wise lost control of the gap on one run and Lawrence took off for 15 yards. But they too had a good game and forced the outcome.
Linebackers: B +
Linebackers led by Dont’a Hightower set the tone from the start of this one. He and Ja’Whaun Bentley performed a stunt in game two of the match, with Hightower sacking Lawrence, leading to a three-and-out. After not forcing a punt the week before… it was a good start.
With Matthew Judon barely playing because he missed practice week due to COVID, Chase Winovich saw some good playing time and provided nice pressure on the QB. This should translate into an increase in playing time to give other backers a break. Jamie Collins had a defended pass, Bentley dropped a fourth interception from Lawrence, which was followed by a 40-yard pass from Lawrence to Laquon Treadwell.
The secondary play was okay but not great for long stretches, but you can’t argue with 3 interceptions and keep the opposing QB 173 clear passing yards. Lawrence completed 17-27 for 193 yards with 1 TD (lost time to backing defensemen) and 3 INT for a 57.1 passer rating.
JC Jackson had a good game, offering his solid cover and good play for an interception, diving for the ball. Kyle Dugger was all over the field and made an excellent play on his pick, almost turning him into a pick-six. He was in a perfect position for another choice, but it’s the one Bentley gave up.
Special teams: C +
The Patriots special teams had a mixed day, before it came to the blunders, the cover units had their best game in a long time. Jake Bailey was kicking off on purpose and the Jaguars weren’t able to generate anything. Bailey’s only punt was a 40-yarder who pinned Jacksonville inside the 20.
Now… the bad news. An extra point was blocked and another was not attempted when Bailey missed the David Andrews snap. Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel both had good games with the cover units.
The Patriots coaching staff had prepared the squad early in the week and the game plan was simple and executed wonderfully. They didn’t do anything extraordinary in attack. They lined up, hammered the ball against an outclassed defense and took the short passes underneath that made them nearly unstoppable.
Defensively, they forced three turnovers and missed a few chances for even more. They should have dominated the Jaguars and did. Enough for the head coach to have a chuckle on the sidelines with Jones and Bourne at the end of the 4th quarter.
We’re on the Dolphin and the regular season finale in Miami.
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Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Damien Harris Devin McCourty Dont’a Hightower Jacksonville Jaguars Jakobi Meyers Jamie Collins Kendrick Bourne Kristian Wilkerson Laquon Treadwell Mac Jones New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Trevor Lawrence