NE-NYJ Grades: Marshall's playmaking ability on display against Pats
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the New York Jets’ 26-20 victory over the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots
– New England’s passing game struggled to find rhythm, as QB Tom Brady was pressured on 16 of 33 dropbacks. His usual quick-hitting attack was non-existent without wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the field. Brady did make a few big throws, including a well-placed “go” route to Rob Gronkowski early on, and a seam route to Gronkowski to convert a huge fourth down, but there were also some uncharacteristic misses at key times, as well. Perhaps most telling was his passer rating of 100.0 on passes thrown in at least 2.5 seconds, compared to a 64.2 rating on passes lasting 2.6 seconds or longer.
– One encouraging sign for the Patriots was the play of DT Malcom Brown, who posted a career-high +3.6 overall grade, and is now grading at +7.1 over his last five games. He had a strong game against the run at +2.6, as he was rarely blocked and got in on three stops. Brown graded at +0.8 as a pass rusher, also a career-high, as he picked up a hit and two hurries on 24 rushes. The 2015 first-rounder is just starting to hit his stride, and his emergence could be a big factor as the Patriots head into the playoffs.
– The secondary had their ups and downs on the afternoon, often unable to make the key stops in the passing game. CB Leonard Johnson struggled to a -2.4 coverage grade in his third game as a Patriot, giving up five of six passes for 55 yards. Rookie safety Jordan Richards played a career-high 65 snaps, and while he got in on a team-high four stops, he was beaten deep for the would-be game-winning touchdown that was dropped late in the fourth. Finally, CB Malcolm Butler’s stats looked good (one reception on four targets for 6 yards), but the one catch was the game-winning touchdown, and the two of the three incompletions came on Ryan Fitzpatrick overthrows when Butler was beaten down the field.
DE Jabaal Sheard +4.4
DT Malcom Brown +3.6
QB Tom Brady +1.9
LB Dont’a Hightower +1.4
TE Rob Gronkowski +1.3
New York Jets
– QB Ryan Fitzpatrick made a number of huge throws with the game on the line: dropped post for would-be game-winning TD late in fourth, perfectly placed corner route to set up game-winner, and the actual game-winning touchdown to WR Eric Decker on a corner route. As well as he played at the end, he left a number of plays on the table early on, missing a number of big plays down the field to open receivers. Perhaps most importantly, Fitzpatrick avoided the big mistake, as he didn’t have a turnover-worthy throw all afternoon. Even with the missed opportunities, if Fitzpatrick takes care of the ball, the Jets will be a dangerous team come playoff time.
– The Jets got great production out of their rookie first-round defensive lineman, as well, as Leonard Williams paced the defense with a a+5.1 grade. He was powerful at the point of attack, grading at +4.7 in the run game while finishing with four stops. He added a hit and four hurries as a pass rusher, and Williams has now graded positively in all but two games this season.
– The evolving NFL has allowed playmakers to elevate quarterbacks more than ever, and that was on display with WR Brandon Marshall on Sunday. While Fitzpatrick made the big throws in the end, a number of his chunk plays were largely due to Marshall simply winning against opposing cornerbacks and safeties down the field. Marshall’s 31-yard touchdown was a jump ball against safety Duron Harmon that took a nice late adjustment to make the catch. For the game, Marshall caught eight of nine passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, as his physicality was too much for the New England secondary.
DE Leonard Williams +5.1
SS Calvin Pryor +2.1
WR Brandon Marshall +2.0
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick +2.0
DE Muhammad Wilkerson +1.9