Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) hands the ball to running back Stevan Ridley (22) during the first quarter of the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Early Observations From New England Patriots Game Against Philadelphia Eagles

Three things jumped right out at me in the first two drives of the first pre-season game of the New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles.

1 – New England clearly will be able to run the ball very well this season.

The first play of the game was huge 62 yard gain by Stevan Ridley who broke right up the middle after nice blocks all around, but especially by Logan Mankins.  Ridley had a clear path to the end zone, but didn’t have the speed to get there.  After five more solid run plays, the Patriots had run six plays, all runs, and had a 6-0 lead.  The lead went to 7-0 after a Gostkowski kick that split the uprights.

2 – The offensive scheme is largely in tact even with all the personnel changes that came about this off-season.

The multiple tight end sets were very effective, with Michael Hoomanawanui taking on the versatile role formerly occupied by Aaron Hernandez.  All the tight ends got some action and did a good job.  Jake Ballard also had a key block on the opening play that sprung Ridley.  Daniel Fells and rookie Zach Sudfeld both had a couple downs and blocked effectively.

3 – The up tempo game is going to remain as a staple of the Patriots offense.

Again, with the mass exodus of last years receiving talent and the arrival of free agent and rookie receivers, logic dictated that the hyper tempo offense the Patriots displayed last year was in jeopardy.  To run 100 more plays than the next closest team in the league, all the players need to know the play book inside and out, and have time together to ensure the communication is flawless.

However, on the second drive of the game for the Patriots, Tom Brady finally put the ball in the air.  After a near sack on a short drop on the first play that ended up in an incompletion, a quick timing pass to Danny Amendola was right in sync.  A deep hitch to rookie Aaron Dobson was perfect.  Brady rifled the ball 20+ yards down field before Dobson broke off his route.  When he turned, the ball stunned him as it was right in his face, yet he caught it nicely with two defenders near by.

Brady seemed to favor Kenbrell Thomkins as he hit him a couple of times.  Once was a back shoulder through in very tight coverage, and the other a bullet that the youngster hauled in nicely.

The following players were exceptionally solid.

Tom Brady – He looked very sharp and in total control.  Much more so than you’d expect in the first pre-season game, especially with a bunch of young receivers.

Will Svitek – He started at right guard and blocked very well other than getting stuffed one on play by the nose tackle.  He man-handled the defenders repeatedly.

Shane Vereen – Shane caught a perfect pass from Tom Brady, pulling it in with one had as he was going to the ground, in the corner of the end-zone for a touchdown.  It was only one play, but it is a strong indication he will be very productive this season.

Kenbrell Thomkins – He looks extraordinarily athletic and he has great size.  He seems in sync with Brady and displayed great hands on both catches he hauled in.

It’s super early, but it’s clear the Patriots won’t miss the talent they lost on offense nearly as much as you would think they would.

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Tags: New England Patriots Stevan Ridley Tom Brady

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  • Tyler Cary

    So, if the Pats perform well on a few plays they are still contenders? If Miami does mediocre on their first few plays in the HOF game then the season is over? You Pats guys are delusional, and you fail to see any of the problems that your team has.

    • Gary Wolff

      All I wrote about were the first two offensive drives. What I said was the Patriots will have a strong running game, still play multiple tight end sets, and will still run the up tempo offense. They did those and in fact they looked pretty fantastic.
      The Patriots have 5 running backs that have to make the roster unless they trade one as they are that good!
      Their o-line is very strong, even with a 3rd stringer starting at right guard.
      They looked prepared and ready to play.
      The young receivers display great hands and ran the correct routes.

      Miami fumbled the very first play from scrimmage. They fumbled a hand-off.

      That is what I saw. What did you see?

      Oh, BTW – Division will end up as
      1 – New England
      2 – Buffalo
      3 – Miami
      4 – New York

      • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

        Very good assessment of Brady and the offense on the first two series. The offense should be a good balance of run and pass this year.

        My preseason prediction:

        New England 11-5
        Miami 9-7
        Buffalo 5-11
        Jets 4-12 ( Rex may not make it to the end of the season)

        • Tyler Cary

          Your division prediction is little more than a bad joke. You must be a great sports analyst. Can’t you guys handle a little trash talking? Isn’t that what football is about? At least Paul gave a decent AFC East prediction. I think that the difference between the Pats/Dolphins will be 1 win, and the #2 will take a WC spot. Miami/NE will finish 11-5 and 10-6 respectively, call me optimistic. Miami/NE will sweep the Bills/Jets and go 1-1 against each other, with each team winning their home games. Can you blame me for being bitter about sitting behind the stupid Pats for the last decade? Ridley will have a good year, you have the right blockers to provide him with plenty of running room, and Brady can piece together their patchwork receivers if anyone can. You know damn well that Buffalo won’t go #2 in the division. Tannehill finished his game last night with a 120.13 QB rating last night, even after a slow start. At least neither of us have to look at Sanchez standing behind center, throwing a pick 6 to start the game. Remember that Brady was considered a long shot at best when he was drafted. Anything can happen, and the season hasn’t even started yet.
          My season prediction
          #1/2 Miami/NE these teams are the only true contenders in the AFC East
          #3 Buffalo
          #4 Jets

          • Hal Bent

            Tyler, you make us older Patriots fans smile…this is a totla role reversal of when I was a kid in the 80s and Don Shula and Dan Marino were the Belichick/Brady of those days and beat the crap out of the Pats for years, and then Jim Kelly and the Bills beat up on us for another decade. :-)
            I’d love to see Miami AND Buffalo step up their games this season (Jets are a lost cause) and provide some competition in the AFC East…The Ravens had such a huge advantage in the playoffs having had to play Pittsburgh and Cincinnati four times in the regular season to prepare them for the playoffs.
            I think Miami is improved on D just getting Dion Jordan, but need to see more of the secondary to see if they are legit…run defense should be strong, but as the Pats finally are figuring out, run defense doesn’t mean much in today’s NFL… :/
            Tannehill looks legit at QB, but that offensive line is scary…scary to watch. I would have kept Jake Long before paying high on Wallace. Tannehill doing so well with only two good linemen is a testament to his skill.
            You are right, though, ANYTHING can happen–that’s what makes the NFL so great!

          • Tyler Cary

            Thank you Hal, I love it when someone can see the talent on their opponent’s team. I will always worry about playing a team with Brady under center, but the years of defeat have made me rather bitter. I really hope that Martin figures out how to block like he should. If he cannot our only saving grace will be Tannehill’s running speed when the pocket collapses again. I also would like to see the Bills climb out of their funk, but not if they take the division. You guys have a stout o-line, and Ridley will have plenty of running room, and Brady should continue to have up to 10 seconds before he has to make a throw. You are correct, anything can happen, and that is why I love football. I really do think that Miami and NE will be battling for the division all the way to the last play of the season. I am sick of watching my America’s Game videos of the 72/73 seasons ten times a year after I finish watching Miami flush another game down the toilet.

          • Hal Bent

            Martin’s issues at tackle are really odd, as he wasn’t some street free agent but left tackle at Stanford protecting Andrew Luck for three years. He has the size and passes the eyeball test, but I wonder if its mental at this point.
            That said, at this point last season Patriots fans were going nuts about the O-Line with Nate Solder starting slow, Sebastian Vollmer injured, Logan Mankins injured, and everyone shouting about Brian Waters not reporting. Of course, the o-line turned into a huge strength in 2012 for the Pats, so like I said, its hard to know what the season will bring.

            I’m just glad there are finally games…here’s to an entertaining season.

          • Tyler Cary

            Apparently Martin has poor hand placement when he is blocking, and that is what is allowing pass rushers to blow right past him. I am very glad that we have Pouncey up front to help deal with Wilfork, there is no way that Martin could handle a man that is as much of a beast as Wilfork.
            It is always hard to know what the season will bring. The last time the Dolphins went to the playoffs we lost all four preseason games, and the same goes for the Pats when they went 18-1. That 16-0 regular season was one of the hardest things I have ever watched. It was even worse when Miami played in Foxboro for the final game of the season. I kept hoping they would treat the Pats like they treated the 85 Bears, but NE absolutely embarrassed Miami in a complete blowout. Of course it didn’t help the Dolphins that there was a blizzard that day, since only one of the two teams knows how to play well in those conditions.

            Hooray for football, and while I would love to see Miami destroy the entire AFC East, we all know that a close race is much more entertaining to watch. So I will say that I hope that it comes down to the last play of the regular season to decide which team takes the division, as that will keep me glued to my Sunday Ticket. Again, I’m sorry about the anger in some of my other comments, but my wife’s grandfather has me on the verge of a murderous rampage right now. Trust me, if you guys had to work with him while he was staying at your house you would start venting in whatever way possible as well.

            If nothing else, my Dolphins are about to go undefeated in my first round of Madden 25. Is it wrong for me to play in that manner?

          • unclealfie

            I hear that! I was in the stands for the famous snow plow game!
            I notice that whenever Miami had to come to NE after that day, Shula made sure it was late summer or Early fall, every year. He had a lot of pull in the NFL while Billy Sullivan was considered a putz by one and all.
            Worst football stadium ever!

      • Tyler Cary

        Yes Gary, Miller missed the first handoff of the preseason, and what a big deal it is to have a single miscue like that in the preseason. Did you catch Miller’s next two runs that went 11/10 yards respectively? Did you notice that our two new running backs have done rather well afterwards? Did you watch Miami’s second game? Not perfect, but much better. If you can’t handle a little trash talking then maybe you shouldn’t post your thoughts where everyone can read them. Plus you played the Eagles, my two year old child could have beaten those guys by himself. Maybe you shouldn’t get all hyped up over beating a team that went 4-12 last year. You only won by 9 points against one of the worst teams in the NFL last year, oooooooooooh I am very scared of a team that can beat the Eagles. Miami beat the Jags by over 20 points, they had a worse record than the Eagles, but at least we didn’t let a second rate team rack up 22 points against us. Oh well, I guess that a second rate sports writer cannot be expected to look at all of the facts. And before you even mention the Dallas game remember that Dallas’ offense only put up 10 points on their own. The other points were handed to them by a rookie CB and our back up QB. You can call your team successful after you beat a team that is half way decent. I was happy with our game last night, but we also played a shitty team, and I am waiting to see how we do against the Texans before I call any preseason action a success.

      • Tyler Cary

        Oh, I will keep my screenshot of your “predictions” about the season so that when you are wrong in a few months, you can print the page out, roll it up into a little ball, and then shove them up your ass so that you can finally see what you wrote.

    • Matt Wincherauk

      I see the problems, and none of them are with the offense. The problem is still they give up too much yardage, and I think most informed Patriots fans will agree. But that problem can be improved upon, with the addition of McCourty and Dennard back into the lineup. What are the Dolphins problems? The fact they have a patchwork offensive line, and an inexperienced QB. Even if you really like Tannehill, he’s had only one season under his belt, can he be expected to lead this team to the playoffs? It’s questionable. And what if those big name signings don’t gel like they’re supposed too? Most teams who win, don’t need to overhaul their roster with big time spending, see the Eagles of 2011. I think the problem here, is that you also don’t happen to see any of the problems the Dolphins have. Yes they have a lot of talent, but it’s raw, and have a lot of pressure heaped on them to be an instant success.

      • Hal Bent

        Or Buffalo last year “winning” the offseason…six wins later and a regime change is what they got for all that money spent

        • Tyler Cary

          The Eagles recently helped prove that a team cannot win the offseason.

      • Tyler Cary

        Look man, I am taking the road of the optimistic fan. Yes we need a lot of work on the o-line, and the receivers may not work out, but they might work out wonderfully. Brady was drafted as a maybe at best, and look how he turned out after he got thrown in when Bledsoe got hurt. The one fact about Tannehill is that he has done well for a guy with only 19 college starts and one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL last year. Why would I expect anything but improvement from him this year? Miller is also inexperienced, but he has the ability to be very explosive. There were some clear positives last night, especially with Tannehill finishing his game with a 120.1 rating. I am looking forward, it has been a rough decade for Miami fans. I will continue to talk trash against the Pats, as I see them as our only serious competition this season. We will know which one of us is correct in a few weeks though, and I cannot wait for week one.

        • Matt Wincherauk

          I’m just not sure why you get so confrontational on here. This is a Patriots site, it’s generally going to be more Patriots oriented, and positive towards the Pats. No one is denying the collection of talent the Dolphins have acquired, I just don’t think people are ready to give the division crown to a team essentially created a few months ago, compared to a team that has had it’s core intact for over a decade, and still going strong. But it will be a fun season, and I look forward to having more of these conversations with you.

          • Tyler Cary

            I am sorry, I have been working with my in laws on a large house residing project and it has left me very angry and bitter at the end of the day. Sorry everyone.

          • Matt Wincherauk

            No worries, you’re a passionate fan, and I can respect that.

          • Tyler Cary

            Same here, the only fans that I hate are fair weather/bandwagon fans.

          • unclealfie

            Working with the in-laws is bad enough but on construction? I’ve been there, my man and I wish you the best of luck.
            Whose house are you building?

        • unclealfie

          Sorry to burst your pretty little balloon my friend, but you’ll not find many NFL experts who’d classify the fins as “serious competition” for the Pats. Hell, no. Does that it mean that it’s not possible for the fins to have a winning season” Of course not.That’s what odds are for.
          Does it mean it’s impossible for the fins to have a winning season? NO, it just makes it a long shot. A very, very long shot. Does it mean it’s impossible for the fins to win the SB? NO. As of today, the Pats are 4/1 odds to bring home another SB, the Fins are 40/1.
          I started watching the Pats in 1970, the year they drafted Jim Plunkett. They had some bad, bad years. I actually feared for Plunkett’s life on occasion.
          But, eventually they turned it around. I still consider Steve Grogan as THE toughest QB ever to play the game. He used to get bounced around in the pocket like a pin ball, when he had a pocket at all. He once played a regular season game wearing a neck brace. I believe he belongs in the HOF, on his toughness alone.
          My point is that its not going to happen for the fins overnight, probably not even this decade, but there’s a lot of fun to be had going along for the ride from the bottom to the top. I wish you and the fins the best of luck but, the Pats will own the AFC East for the next 10 years, minimum.

    • unclealfie

      Get real! If you knew the first thing abut football you’re realize how ridiculous it would be to base a season’s predictions on “a few plays”, in preseason, wherever you got that thought!
      Talk about delusional!!v I have the fins going 4-12 again this year and I don’t see any reason to revise that, given what they’re showed in the preseason.
      I know exactly what problems the Pats have and they’re few, minimal and manageable. They have the best coach in the NFL and probably the best owner. They had another excellent draft and will win the AFC east once again.