It was a shocking ending to a mistake-filled day for the New England Patriots. Missed kicks, losing track of timeouts, giving up big plays on defense, that’s what fans are going to harp on as everyone looks back at what the Pats could’ve or should’ve done. It all comes down to the final play where the defensive players had major breakdowns and very poor technique. Even with the miscues, the Patriots played well enough to win, but looked like the Jets in "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."
Tom Brady played very well. I admit this grade doesn’t match his production. He was under some duress from a better-than-advertised Miami pass rush. A third-down miss was because of pressure allowed by Marcus Cannon. TB12 did have a cold bird miss on a swing route to Rex Burkhead in the second half, but without Brady, they don’t score over 30 on the road. His mistake at the end of the second quarter was a game-management one and is INEXCUSABLE considering the third-down play in question was coming out of a Miami timeout. That play didn’t cost them the game, but as Brady said afterwards, “That can’t happen.”
RUNNING BACKS: A-
Another good week for Sony Michel, James Develin, James White and Burkhead. If Michel stays healthy, we will all soon be talking about how Bill Belichick stole him at the end of the first round. White stepped up his pass protection. And Burkhead is slowly being worked back into this offense. Develin is a pro bowler. An old school fullback that every fan can enjoy.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B
Josh Gordon is making some real strides in the offense. He’s running more than just slants and go routes. I think he’s dealing with something shoulder-related as I see him rotating his arm a bunch, especially after contact. To me, this was the first time Julian Edelman looked like himself. And credit offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for his creativity and getting Cordarrelle Patterson involved in the offense in different ways.
TIGHT END: B+
Miami threw the kitchen sink at Rob Gronkowski from a coverage standpoint and the big boy had a big boy day at the office. He dictated coverage, played with physicality and still draws attention from opposing defenses. I WILL NOT ding him on this grade because he didn’t make the game-saving tackle. File it under: Fish out of Water. (Apologies to Bill Reynolds for using his line)
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
I like what I’m seeing from this group down the stretch, but I’d love to see them be better at running the ball in the fourth quarter. Marcus Cannon needs to clean up the mental mistakes, and I’d like to see Trent Brown handle the speedier rushers off the edge with more physicality.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C-
Too many GAPING holes at the line of scrimmage for Miami running backs to go through. You have to get a hand on rushers and provide at least a little resistance. The pass rush got home a few times but needs to be more consistent. What I didn’t like was the lack of effort from the DL pass rushers on the final play. No hustle chasing a player down from behind.
In the first half, the linebackers couldn’t get off blocks and weren’t very good tacklers. Better play in the second half, however, on Miami’s lone (real) touchdown drive of the second half. Elandon Roberts had a big missed open field tackle on the catch by Frank Gore that was a drive extender and a chunk play. Watch Kyle Van Noy on the final play, almost tackled Kenyon Drake from behind, and then not get up and bust his hump and chase from behind.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: D
As I write this, I feel like this grade is harsh, considering the Patriots willingly played zone coverage and I don’t think this secondary is built for that. Stephon Gilmore was clearly compromised out there and didn’t look healthy. J.C. Jackson is going to have days like he had Sunday, looked more like a dog chasing cars out there than someone playing with angles and anticipation. And Jason McCourty was a step behind all day.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Even my neighbor yelled to me about the special teams when he saw me outside in my garage after the game. He, and most, will be disappointed I didn’t eviscerate this unit. Gostkowski’s missed kicks didn’t cost them the game. It didn’t help, but the Pats still had a 27-21 lead after the missed field goal and he did nail two, in the 4th quarter. Punt blocks were huge, as was not getting any points after the second blocked kick. Returns and punts were all good and clean. There was more good than bad here.
THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR
1) If a Hail Mary situation to close out a game presents itself again, will there be any offensive players on the field?
2) They'll be very focused and will take it to Pittsburgh.
3) Watch the final play vs. Miami one more time in slow motion. Follow Van Noy as he trails Drake. Watch the lack of backside pursuit as the play develops. And then follow J.C. Jackson run around and take bad angles. It isn’t on Gronk.
“The Gresh Show” airs each weeknight on 99.7FM and AM 630 WPRO from 6 to 9 p.m.
Source : http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20181210/greshs-grades-some-good-some-bad-then-that-last-play970