6 Rings Postgame Show: It wasn't pretty, but Pats get first win
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deep breaths, Patriots fans. Your team has won a football game.
The Patriots went down to The Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon and for the first time in 2023, were able to add a tally to the ‘W’ column after beating the Jets 15-10. It was tighter than they would have liked at the end, but a win’s a win and they now sit at 1-2, avoiding their first 0-3 start since 2000.
Here are five immediate thoughts from the contest:
5 - The Patriots have their next special teams ace in Brenden Schooler.
Matthew Slater has been pretty adamant that his career could be coming to an end soon and while we’re all going to miss him, New England already has their next special teams great in Brenden Schooler.
A University of Texas product, the Patriots signed Schooler as an undrafted free agent last season and he’s been sensational in the third phase of game. Not only did he have the play of the game last week on a crafty blocked field goal, but much like Slater he’s a top-tier gunner and continues to be in the right place at the right time for New England’s special teams unit.
While we’ll miss the “aw, yeah”’s from Slate, the Pats should have no problem passing the torch soon.
4 - Finally, some stability at offensive line… at least at tackle.
With Trent Brown back at left tackle this week and both Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu back at the guards spots for the second game in a row, the Patriots’ offensive line finally has some stability. Here’s what it looked like (for most of) Sunday:
LT - Trent Brown
LG - Cole Strange
C - David Andrews
RG - Cole Strange
RT - Vederian Lowe
After he struggled through two games, Calvin Anderson was replaced by Vederian Lowe on the right side. Lowe held up well during his second consecutive start.
Rookie guard Atonio Mafi ended up playing the majority of the fourth quarter at Cole Strange’s spot after he looked to re-aggravate his knee injury. He was tended to by trainers on the sideline and looked like he wanted to get back in the game. I wouldn’t expect this to be long-term again.
Overall the line held up well over the course of 60 minutes. Mac Jones wasn't sacked and the Pats gained 143 yards on the ground, their best rushing performance this season.
3 - Zach Wilson just isn’t it.
Not that we didn’t know this already, but the Jets need to do something else at quarterback.
Zach Wilson, who the Jets drafted with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, fell to a career 0-5 against the Patriots on Sunday and was abysmal in the loss, completing just 18 of 36 pass attempts for 157 yards and a passer rating of just 61.9. The offense scored just 10 points.
New York has a promising young team at their core with the likes of Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Quinnen Williams at the helm, and 2023 was supposed to be their breakout season with Aaron Rodgers under center until he tore his Achilles.
From the outset, the idea was to go with Wilson for the remainder of the season but Sunday’s performance made it abundantly clear:
The Jets need a veteran to take over the reigns if they want a chance at success in 2023.
2 - Christian Gonzalez is the real deal.
In his first true test of his NFL career, cornerback Christian Gonzalez passed with flying colors.
Over the first two weeks, the rookie saw bits and pieces of top tier talent getting some work against AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle, but Sunday was his first time truly shadowing a No. 1 wide receiver all game in Garrett Wilson.
Wilson caught just four passes for 19 yards on eight targets (until a 29-yard garbage time completion) during Sunday's contest and had virtually nowhere all afternoon with Gonzalez blanketing him in coverage. It, of course, didn't help that he had Zach Wilson trying to get him the football.
Nonetheless, Gonzalez is the real deal. New England has their CB1.
1 - The Patriots still have a chance!
After all the talk about a potential collapse, New England avoided what would have been just their second 0-3 in the Bill Belichick era with the win on Sunday.
Now sitting at 1-2, the club will travel to Dallas, host the Saints, and head to Vegas over the next three weeks before welcoming the reigning division champion Bills to Foxborough in Week 7.
The road ahead is tough, but if they can get to atleast .500 before their Buffalo matchup, that’ll be their best chance at staying competitive throughout the remainder of the 2023.