Editor’s Note: Andy Gresh will be part of The Providence Journal’s Patriots coverage for the season. “Gresh’s Grades” will appear each week in print, on providencejournal.com/sports, and on 997wpro.com following a Patriots game.
This week Matthew Slater had some strong words about Thursday night Football games and the toll it takes on the players. The affects of playing on a short week was on full display in the Patriots 35-14 win over the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. It was full of sloppy execution and injuries. The game was grandma’s drapes ugly. Now enjoy the down time and heal up to make it to the full bye week in a month.
The interception was a bad read, a bad throw, or both. But upon closer examination, given what Tom Brady had to work with, it was a good performance. He completed 13-14 to running backs, and wide receivers outside of Julian Edelman, he was 7-8. Connecting with those players while being limited with personnel and formations. I thought the first QB sneak touchdown was taking advantage of opportunity. I thought the 2nd QB sneak touchdown was making sure the job got done because I don’t think he trusts his mates completely to execute in that situation.
RUNNING BACKS: A
I thought the overall contributions from this group won them the game. Sony Michel was productive behind an inconsistent offensive line and continues to grow in the passing game. James White was the extra wide receiver in the 2nd half and fights hard for 1st downs after contact. And I write this every week, Brandon Bolden does the most with his limited snaps on offense.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B
None of us knew coming into this game that Jakobi Meyers and Gunnar Olszewski would be counted on to play so many snaps. That said, they were solid. They were taken care of assignment wise and Meyers made a few plays in the 3rd quarter that forces the Giants to pay attention to him. Edelman’s a warrior. Great effort while playing injured.
TIGHT ENDS: C-
I’m trying to be fair because its Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse, and I have low expectations and I know one of them got hurt. BUT. They have to play better. The Patriots outside running game is non existent because this is a position of weakness. Last week against Washington, they did more position blocking and had more success. Plus, you can’t give up backside pressure so the QB gets strip sacked. This week, the duo went backwards.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
I know, lots of pressures on Tom Brady. But as a team, Brady threw for 334 yards and they ran for 114 yards. That’s on a short week and remember, it takes lineman extra time to recover from a game. Brady was pressured a lot and the strip sack came on a block not made by Ryan Izzo. Marshall Newhouse is very inconsistent at left tackle. I expect teams to start attacking him with extra blitzers in the coming weeks.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Deitrich Wise and Danny Shelton got to Daniel Jones numerous times and the way this front, along with the linebackers, controlled the running game, it allowed another stellar performance on 3rd down (2-10). Lawrence Guy is playing very well and making the most of his chances. Plus, the blending of John Simon, and Chase Winovich into this unit as defensive ends, puts a lot of mental stress on offensive lines.
Once again, ‘The Boogeymen’ were productive. Don’ta Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Jaime Collins seemed to be around the ball all night long. The ‘2nd level’ defenders did a good job all night of tackling around the line of scrimmage and helping keep the run game under control. I love that these guys love being aggressive.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A+
The touchdown allowed by Jonathon Jones to Golden Tate came off a great throw, and a great catch, after great coverage. And Jason McCourty got his hands on one, that was still caught. Those things happen. These guys were on lock all night long. The lack of Giants skill players made it much easier mix up coverages because there wasn’t one player who had to pay attention to. 1 play of 20+ yards and it was the Tate TD. Pretty incredible.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
When your special teams produces points outside of kicks, thats a great day. Brandon Bolden once again, makes a play of special teams. Jake Bailey is an absolute find. Yes, another missed field goal. Its now a situation that will just have to be managed. This was a good night otherwise.
3 Things to watch.
1) Extended time off because they play on Monday night. This is a chance to build in a mini-bye week and get mental and physical rest. Coaches too.
2) Trying to find ways to create salary cap space for roster additions on offense.
3) Tom Brady to remain moody and frustrated with the inconsistency of the offense.