First, the qualifiers: Gillislee looked fine in short distance runs throughout the night. One cannot score three goal-line touchdowns without being an adept runner in tight situations. Also, both stops were tremendous collective plays from Kansas City’s remade defensive line. In both circumstances, the push up front was fantastic. Justin Houston bulled his way through a blocker on the second stop to bust up the Gillislee run.
I don’t think it’s time yet to make this an indictment on Brady’s age. On one of the fourth-down attempts, the broadcast crew jokingly mentioned not using the quarterback sneak anymore because Brady is 40. I would find it hard to believe that coach Bill Belichick would curtail one of the more successful parts of his offense because a player can’t do it anymore. Thursday night felt like Belichick was still feeling out the capabilities and limitations of his brand new fleet of running backs. While Gillislee was certainly worth the investment, perhaps nothing can replace Brady dipping below the line on fourth-and-inches.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht must feel like he’s cursed at the kicker position. Nick Folk, the team’s hand-picked replacement for draft bust Roberto Aguayo, missed three field goals in what could be his last game in a Bucs uniform. Folk has missed five kicks in the last two weeks.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has been too erratic with his accuracy this season to take the next step in his development. The Bucs’ offense got off to a slow start, punting on four of its first five possessions. Winston flat-out missed a number of open throws that short-circuited drives. His final numbers (334 yards on 46 attempts) don’t reflect the struggles he had for much of the night. He and his receivers often weren’t on the same page, including on the final throw to rookie tight end O.J. Howard.
Well, I know from experience that coach Bill Belichick isn’t concerned about the number of targets each player gets. He’s concerned about winning (no surprise here), so whoever is open with the greatest chance to progress the ball downfield will get the look. After stopping at Patriots training camp in early August, I started to think about how this team might spread the ball around — though it’s nearly impossible to predict with Belichick calling the shots.
Last season, the Patriots passed the ball on 54 percent of offensive snaps and ran 46 percent of the time. Keep in mind that Brady, who was serving a four-game suspension, didn’t play until Week 5. With backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett under center through Week 4, the offense ran the ball 52 percent of the time, as opposed to 44 percent after Brady returned.
With 8:31 to go in the fourth quarter, a seemingly routine 4-yard Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown was reviewed and overturned, cementing a decision from the NFL’s team of replay officials that will be discussed all week long. Seferian-Jenkins, who appeared to momentarily bobble the football en route to the ground, was said to have fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone resulting in a touchback.
The masses did not seem to agree. CBS color analyst Dan Fouts called it “one of the strangest decisions on a call like that I’ve ever seen,” while Fox analyst Mike Pereira, the league’s former officiating head, said on Twitter there “does not seem like enough evidence to change the ruling.” Seferian-Jenkins was in disbelief and ran toward the officiating crew after the call was made. A shot of him sitting perplexed on the sidelines was a mainstay throughout the remaining broadcast.
On pace for the worst total defense since the 1970 merger, the Patriots have surrendered 400-plus yards in each game this season and currently rank 31st in points allowed per tilt. Why? It starts with a secondary that has utterly failed to live up to its summertime hype. Free-agent acquisition Stephon Gilmore was torched by the Panthers last week, allowing 71 yards and a touchdown off two Carolina catches. After signing a five-year, $65 million deal, the former Bills cover man has struggled to pick up Belichick’s scheme, acknowledging after Sunday’s loss: “It’s frustrating when it’s communication, it’s not really ability. I have to get better at the communication part. It’s my fault on the communication.”
What’s concerning is that Gilmore — who appeared to be benched for a spell against Carolina — is “communicating” with the likes of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Malcolm Butler, on paper one of the best secondaries league-wide, but in real life a disjointed mess through the first month of play.
Mixon punched a female OU student in 2014 and was charged with acts resulting in gross injury. The case was settled with a plea agreement, and Mixon, who was suspended for the 2014 season, served one year of probation, counseling, and 100 hours of community service.
He was barred from this year’s NFL Scouting Combine under a conduct policy, but has made the rounds since then, meeting with the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers, among other clubs. Lions GM Bob Quinn said at the combine that Mixon was on Detroit’s draft board.