The football matched the weather when the Jets faced the Patriots in Foxboro on Thursday night, which is to say it started sloppy and kept getting worse. By the time it was over, New England had outlasted New York, 13-10, but other than another division win for the Pats, now 2-0, there wasn't much to celebrate.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw an early 39-yard touchdown pass to rookie Aaron Dobson and relied heavily on Julian Edelman (13 receptions, 78 yards), but the future Hall of Famer was otherwise frustrated by the fresh-faced pass catchers and their lack of experience. Brady finished 19 of 39 for 185 yards and a touchdown, and for the first time since 2009, he completed fewer than half his passes.
"I think I have to do a better job with my body language," Brady said after the game. "I definitely can improve that. I wouldn't say it's a real strong point of mine right now."
Whether Brady has a good poker face or not, the fact remains that the Pats' young receivers and the franchise quarterback not only aren't on the same page, they're not in the same library. Rookies Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were targets 17 times and managed just five receptions. New England had more punts than first downs (11 vs. 9).
"It was three-and-out after three-and-out after three-and-out," guard Logan Mankins said, via ESPN.com. "It was pretty frustrating for a lot of us on offense. Thankfully the defense played great and bailed us out, because we couldn't do anything."
"Well, we have a long way to go," Brady said. "No one's coming to rescue and save the day, so we've got to fight through it and got to work harder."
The Pats entered the season without their top five receivers from 2012 -- Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski -- and they were down Danny Amendola on Thursday. Gronk and Amendola will be back, although it's not exactly clear when. Maybe next week, maybe in Week 6. For now, Brady has to make do with what he has.
"The passing game is all about anticipation," Brady said. "They have to anticipate what I'm going to do and I have to anticipate what they're going to do. We can do a better job of that. I think it's unrealistic for them to feel like they can do it like 10-year veterans. It's not what they are."
Now the question becomes: Can the Pats weather the storm until their playmakers return? They face the Bucs, Falcons, Bengals and Saints before a rematch with the Jets. The hope is that Gronk and Amendola will be back, and Dobson and Thompkins will continue to improve.
Clearly, this ain't the '07 Patriots. Then again, they don't have to be; they play in a weak division, and even if New England is, say, 4-4 midway through the season, they'll still be the favorites to win the AFC East.