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Worth the Watch: Yay or Nay? Week Seven, Patriots vs. Jets

In the wake of the New England Patriots’ victory over the New York Jets in Week Seven of the 2021 season, Patriot Maven provides analysis for the players on whom Pats fans might have wanted to keep watch. Were they worth the attention?

The New England Patriots are heading into Week Eight of the 2021 NFL season with a 3-4 record, following a 54-13 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. In the second of two meetings between the AFC East Divisional Rivals, New England’s Mac Jones completed 24 of 36 passes, compiling 307 yards with two touchdowns. Running backs Damien Harris and J.J. Taylor would contribute two touchdown runs each as the Pats dismantled the Jets.

Prior to this Week Seven matchup, Patriot Maven highlighted three players on offense and three players on defense on which the fan base might have wanted to keep watch.

Let’s examine whether this six-pack of Patriots was ‘worth the watch’ on Sunday:

Michael Onwenu - Yay

At long last, Patriots fans and media alike were treated to the move along the offensive line for which they had been clamoring. Onwenu started the game at right tackle, and the Pats offensive line had its best game of 2021. New England looked far more efficient in both run and pass protection than they have all season. The Patriots’ offensive line allowed just one sack and four quarterback hits. In run protection, the line provided the team’s runners the opportunity to rush for an average of 5.0 yards per carry, with Damien Harris averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Against a solid Jets’ defensive front, the offensive line more than held its own. Onwenu put in a solid day’s work, and continues to be one of their best and most productive offensive linemen.

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Kendrick Bourne - Yay

It is hard to provide an adequate encore to a 75-yard touchdown reception, which arguably should have been the game-winner, just one week earlier. However, Bourne was once again a primary pass-catching threat for New England against the Jets on Sunday. The 26-year-old compiled four catches for 68 yards, including a 46-reception on a beautifully-thrown deep pass by Mac Jones, which came within a yard of becoming a touchdown. Bourne saw a notable increase in on field action, as he was used both in the middle of the field, as well as on vertical deep routes. Still, Bourne’s most-impressive moment of the day came early in the first quarter, when he tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nelson Agholor. Bourne’s early trickery led to a seven-point treat for New England. 

Rhamondre Stevenson - Nay, by default

Following a strong performance in Week Six against the Cowboys, Stevenson was expected to play a notable role on Sunday against the Jets. However, the Pats opted to deactivate the rookie running back for Week Seven, in favor of second-year back J.J. Taylor. Though sitting Stevenson did not appear to be the result of any admonishment from the coaching staff, it was also hard to argue with the results. Damien Harris ran for 106 yards, while Taylor rushed for 21 yards; each contributing two rushing touchdowns. Veteran Brandon Bolden proved to be quite the effective receiver out of the backfield, leading all Pats’ receivers with 79 yards and a touchdown. Despite being inactive on Sunday, Stevenson’s progress was complemented by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Monday morning, indicating that the former Oklahoma Sooner should be back in action soon.

Myles Bryant - Yay

Though the questions continue surrounding the Patriots secondary, they may have found a solid depth piece in Myles Bryant. The hard-hitting defensive back filled in for the injured Jonathan Jones at slot corner on Sunday. The 23-year-old contributed a forced fumble, a tackle for loss, and a sack on a corner blitz, his first NFL-career sack. Despite some shaky spots in coverage, Bryant performed well enough for the Pats to consider having him continue to fill the role, especially with Jones having been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Interior, Defensive Line - Yay

For a unit that entered Week Seven with several injury related questions, the Pats defensive line performed admirably on Sunday. Collectively, the unit held the Jets running game to 62 rushing yards. Despite missing practice throughout the week, Davon Godchaux gave a solid performance in the middle of the line. Practice squad elevation Dan Ekuale took 17 snaps at defensive tackle, contributing a tackle-for loss and one sack. Playing the nose tackle role, Carl Davis was stout in stopping the run as well as pushing the pocket in there. Lawrence Guy remained a steady and consistent presence. However, the primary praise belonged to rookie Christian Barmore. Leading all defensive tackles with 41 snaps taken, the Alabama product was credited with two quarterback hits and three total tackles.

Matt Judon - Yay

While Judon did not exactly illuminate the stat sheet in Week Seven, he was nearly omnipresent on the field for the Pats on Sunday. Judon took 59 of the patriots 65 defensive snaps, as his presence in the Patriots linebacking corps continues to be felt. Judon was credited with one tackle, but was a force all over the field, contributing on both run and pass defensive packages. Judon provided notable assistance to his teammates in creating favorable matchups from off-the-ball snaps. This allowed him to put pressure on Jets’ quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Mike White, while maintaining the flexibility to defend New York’s rushing attack on designated runs.