Rapid React: Jets vs. Patriots

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This game didn’t exactly dispel the notion Thursday night games are extra sloppy thanks to the short week, as it featured 23 total points and quite possibly more drops than that. The two teams combined for nearly as many punts (20) as first downs (23). The Jets were 13-point underdogs who finished minus-four in the turnover department while playing on the road and nearly won, holding New England to just six points over the final 55 minutes. It was quite the battle of attrition that will soon be forgotten. In fact, the highlight of the night may very well have been an off-camera mic catching Brad Nessler saying he has “to go to the little boys room.

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Let’s start with the Jets, who quite clearly won’t be the doormat many expected them to be this season. It starts with the defense, as New York has now allowed just 5.6 YPA with a 48.6 completion percentage and a 69.6 QB Rating over their first two games. Sure, Josh Freeman looks to be in a freefall, and the Pats’ passing game is a mess right now (more on that later), but it’s still impressive nevertheless. And the Jets’ run defense has been even better, holding two teams who very well may have top-five offensive lines to just 2.4 YPC. NYJ should be viewed as a highly unfavorable matchup for fantasy owners moving forward. It was odd to see them not have a returner back during two punts, but it seemed to work out OK, even if it didn’t result in a block.

As for the team’s offense, Stephen Hill, who had a bad fourth quarter drop and lost a fumble earlier, remains an intriguing talent despite the inconsistency. His physical tools are off the charts, so there’s some long-term upside. Chris Ivory looked good, but this backfield remains locked in a timeshare for the foreseeable future. Geno Smith finished with a 0:3 TD:INT ratio and a 27.6 QB Rating and made some pretty egregious decisions (all three picks came in the fourth quarter), but he also looked competent at times, and it shouldn’t be understated how tough it is for such a raw rookie to play on the road during three days of preparation during his second start in the NFL. I have no idea what to make of Smith long-term, but I’d be encouraged if I were a Jets fan (or dynasty owner in fantasy leagues).

Stevan Ridley owners aren’t going to be happy, but at least he didn’t fumble (although he badly bobbled a simple toss late in the game that was nearly disastrous), and the disappointing effort came against what looks like a dominant Jets run D that held Doug Martin to 2.7 YPC last week. With Shane Vereen out until at least Week 11, Ridley may be the best “buy-low” opportunity right now, although this could become even more true 10 days from now, as the Patriots are set to face a Buccaneers front seven in Week 3 that allowed an NFL-low 3.5 YPC last season. I proclaimed people who spent their FAAB heavily on Julian Edelman wouldn’t be sorry, but those in non-PPR leagues aren’t overly thrilled with Thursday’s performance. Still, it’s hard not to be excited about the 18 targets. 18! Even if it wasn’t exactly efficient.

If a very close call isn’t overturned, Tom Brady enters halftime with 170 passing yards and two touchdowns. But the would-be Kenbrell Thompkins TD was ruled incomplete, and the Patriots offense looked as bad as it gets during the second half, so there’s obviously reason for concern, especially when you consider just how big of a gift the team’s first touchdown that came on blown coverage was. It’s simply been laughable just how bad New England’s rookie wide receivers have been early on. Aaron Dobson had multiple bad drops, including this one that would have been a big-gainer (h/t Deadspin). Moreover, through two games, Thompkins has now secured 28.6 percent of the passes thrown to him (from a first ballot Hall of Famer) for 4.2 YPT. That’s not ideal.

Speaking of Tom Brady, he’s off to the worst start of his career, and while I admit I ranked him too high this week and would move QBs like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson ahead of him moving forward, I’m also not exactly writing his obituary either. New England’s system and offensive line remain a huge advantage, and Rob Gronkowski (and eventually Danny Amendola) will return soon enough, not to mention the rookies can only get better (that last statement I feel pretty confident about). It’s completely fair to downgrade Brady, but he still should be considered a top-10 fantasy QB from here on out. There’s too much history (and talent) not to, at least in my opinion.

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