Patriots coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels made it quite clear during their morning-after conference call on Monday: They were not happy with the performance of the offense in the team’s 17-16 win over the Jets.
“I think we had a lot of communication-execution issues on offense,” Belichick said. “We just didn’t execute well, in any part of the game. All the players were involved, all the coaches were involved — we just didn’t execute very well. We had mistakes everywhere, multiple mistakes everywhere, so you can point to any spot and find some, because they were everywhere.
“We’ve just got to try to correct them today and move on, but I don’t think there’s any one single thing that I would point to, I think it was an accumulation of a lot of lack of execution plays. A lot of times good things would happen on the play, but one part of the play was poorly executed, and we didn’t have much to show for it. We didn’t execute in the passing game very well, we didn’t execute in the running game very well, blocking, passing, catching — none of it was really very good.”
Asked about the play of offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon, Belichick would not single out either player — any player — for good play, at least not consistently good play against the Jets.
“There were times when we were OK, there were times when we weren’t, and you can put any players’ name to that question offensively, and the answer would be the same,” Belichick said. “We need all of our players to play better. We need our good players to play better, we need to do a better job of coaching, we need to do a lot of things better.
“Fifty yards of offense in the first half; that’s not going to win many games. You’re lucky to even be in the game.”
Belichick and New England players had said repeatedly leading up to the game that despite New York’s record, the Jets, particularly their defense, were going to be a challenge.
Tom Brady was sacked four times and the official game book credited the Jets with 11 quarterback hits, the most any team has had on Brady in a game this season.
On Monday, Belichick noted that every game in the NFL is tough. But the Patriots didn’t help themselves at MetLife Stadium.
“I don’t want to take anything away from them — they came out there, they competed well, in the end we made the plays we needed to make to win. They didn’t. But I didn’t think we played particularly well, particularly on offense, until we made a few plays in the fourth quarter,” Belichick said. “I don’t think it was our best game, by any stretch.
“We have, and we’ll need to play a lot better than we did yesterday.”
But McDaniels wouldn’t pin the offense’s issues solely on the line.
“There’s a lot of things that go into good pass protection, and there was more than one issue yesterday in terms of protecting the quarterback,” he said. “We had issues up front, we had issues at tight end, we had issues at running back. The issues aren’t just in one spot, and I think the solution is definitely an execution thing, and it’s our responsibility as an offense, as a coaching staff, and all our players, each one of us needs to do our job on every play, and when we do, then usually we have an opportunity to make a good play.
“A lot of things go into it, some of which is communication-based, some of which is physical, some of which is technique, fundamentals, and execution. There’s a lot of things that we can do better, and we’re going to work hard this week to try to improve in some of those areas.”
Underscoring Belichick’s displeasure: despite the win, he required players to report to Gillette Stadium Monday for meetings and film work. Typically, players get Monday off after a late-season victory.
The field goal process is so robotic, so precise, that blocked kicks are generally in short supply in the NFL. That is, unless you play for New England.
The Patriots have four of the league’s 28 blocked field goals this season, the latest from defensive captain Vince Wilfork on a 52-yard field goal try Sunday by the Jets’ Nick Folk. The muffed kick gave New England possession late in regulation, and the Patriots never looked back.
It was the second time this season New England’s special teams had stymied a potential winning kick from Folk. On the final play of their first matchup, Chris Jones blocked a 58-yard kick that would have given New York the win, the Patriots instead escaping with a 27-25 victory at Gillette.
For a team often praised for its efficient offense and shut-down defense, special teams once again played a pivotal role in a victory.
“Every play is crucial,” tight end Tim Wright said. “All the details that go into it throughout practice that we practice every day, they come big for us when they do. [Wilfork] made a great play, and it came in big for us.”
Special teams was the lone constant in the knock-down, drag-out win.
The punting game shined, particularly in the first half.
On a day in which New England tallied only 52 yards of total offense through two quarters, Ryan Allen repeatedly handcuffed the Jets offense with a 52.6-yard average on five punts. Twice he pinned New York inside the 20-yard line.
As the Patriots traded leads with New York in the second half, kicker Stephen Gostkowski did his part. New England’s all-time leading scorer converted his two extra points and tacked on a 24-yard field goal that cut the Jets’ lead to 13-10 late in the third.
And with momentum favoring the home team, New England’s defending of a field goal attempt delivered a crushing blow by ruining New York’s upset bid.
Following a Folk field goal and an interception of Brady, Wilfork found a soft A-gap and split his defenders as the Jets tried to take the lead.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 325-pound nose tackle got his fingertips on the kick, the ball careening left as it fell short of the uprights.
The Patriots took over at their 42 and ran off the final 5:16 of regulation.
Special teams are one reason the Patriots have won 10 of their last 11 games, and have a first-round bye in hand with the regular season coming to a close Sunday against Buffalo at Gillette.
For wins to continue through January, Wright believes the special teams will need to continue to succeed.
“I feel all phases of the game, collectively, help you win or lose,” Wright said. “If you don’t have a good special teams group, it can really hurt you.
“But we take a lot of pride here at the Patriots with our special teams and they come in big for us. It’s going to take all three phases of the game to really get us going where we want to go.”
The result of the “Monday Night Football” game between the Broncos and Bengals decided the start time for the Patriots’ game Sunday.
If the Broncos had beaten the Bengals and still had a chance at the one-seed in the AFC, the top-seeded Patriots would have hosted the Bills at 4:25 p.m., matching the time the Broncos will take on the Raiders in Oakland.
But since the Bengals upset the Broncos, 37-28, Denver can’t get the top seed, and the Patriots, who now have home field throughout the AFC playoffs, will face the Bills at the previously scheduled time of 1 p.m.
Globe correspondent Andrew MacDougall contributed to this report. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com.