Real answer: Pats got lucky. They were throwing sh*t at the wall to see what stuck when it came to replacing Vereen. They already has White on the roster. They picked up Cadet and Lewis to kick the tires. Lewis had been out of football last season, and played no football the year before because of a broken leg. Anyone could have signed him and given him a shot. Lewis fit the mold of what the Pats were looking for to replace Vereen, and he performed the best of the bunch.
RE: holding- Basically every team commits holding on every passing play. Rule 12 (Player Conduct), Section 1 (Blocking, Use of Hands and Arms), Article 3 (Illegal Block by an Offensive Player) As written, it should be called on every play, but isn't. That is just the reality of the NFL. Offensive linemen constantly "use [their] hands or arms to materially restrict an opponent". We can't pretend only one team is doing something special that no one else is.
So I officially made my first sports bet today. I bet 10 dollars on the Jets to cover +9 (-125). I figure either I just paid 10 dollars to enjoy watching my team win a blowout, or I at least get to console myself with an additional 8 dollars in my Bovada account.
The guys is one of the absolute BEST at his job. While I understand that "best gunner ever" and "special teams captain" is not held in the same regard as even say "#3 WR" by most fans, the guy is great at what he does. The teams that don't value special teams are the ones constantly bobbling punt returns, giving up long returns, being caught flat footed when the other team runs a fake, etc. I understand why someone would not value special teams as much as offense or defense, but it definitely still has a role to play, and should not be brushed off lightly.
One thing the Jets did under Rex in the past that always worked well was crowding the short routes. The most difficult offensive days that the Pats had against the Jets and Ravens were when they kept insisting on trying to throw short, but the defense only rushed 3 or 4, and just had a lot of bodies in either short zones or jamming receivers. It would not shock me to see Bowles continue what has worked in the past, given the talented DL and corner depth.
One additional portion which you left out: the original plan (according to a Pat MacAfee interview on local radio) was to trick the opposing team into substituting. The offense bunched up near the sideline to make it look like they were about to come onto the field. The punt team however would not actually substitute, just line up in a swinging gate formation, and the hope was to snap the ball while the opposing special team unit tried to substitute and catch them with 12 men. Then if not 12 men, hope for offsides. Then if not offside, eat the delay of game.
In 1999, I was a freshman in college in New England, finally following the NFL closely (the Pats doing well in the Bledsoe era when I was in high school got me started, but I didn't really watch every Sunday until college). I remember cheering when Vinny when out with an injury, Mirer threw an INT, and Adam kicked the winning FG.
I didn't realize until years later how much of a sh*tbag it made me for being happy that another human being was significantly injured.