Last night, the Patriots came away with a 31-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in their first preseason tilt of the year. Shortly after the game ended, I gave my five main takeaways from the matchup. You can read this piece here.
But I’m not done.
Here are 10 additional notes on the Pats win over the Eagles last night.
1. Running Game Solid
Obviously, the big story when it comes to the running backs from last night, was LeGarrette Blount and his incredible performance. But Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen had solid nights as well. Ridley had a great 2012 campaign, and it looks like he has picked up from where he left off last year. Shane Vereen has the responsibility of replacing Danny Woodhead, and I think he will be up to the challenge. One thing that I think he may be able to do better than Woodhead did, is split out wide and make a play on the outside. He scored the Pats second touchdown of the game in the first quarter by doing this, and the Patriots should look to do this more often.
Tebow got more snaps than Mallett and Brady last night, and he pretty much showed us exactly what we were expecting. As a drop back passer, I don’t think he has what it takes to make it in this league. He missed multiple throws, he made awful decisions, and took a couple of sacks. However as a runner he was impressive, specifically when the Pats went to a zone-read type of offense. He finished the game with 55 yards through the air, completing only four of 12 passes, he did manage to grind out 31 yards on the ground.
3. Sudfeld Impressive
Zach Sudfeld caught one ball for 22 yards last night, and he made a couple of nice moves after the catch to gain the majority of those yards. For such a big guy he showed great athleticism, and he may form a nice duo with Gronkowski when Gronk gets healthy. Sudfeld was also impressive in the blocking game, specifically down-field on the Blount 51 yard touchdown, where Sudfeld made the final block to free Blount.
4. Ryan Mallett just “OK”
Tom Brady hates to come out of regular season football games regardless of the score, so that is why Mallett has to make the most of his opportunities during the preseason. He did not do that in the Patriots first preseason contest of the year. He put together a “solid” performance in my eyes. I say that because he didn’t make any horrible throws or decisions, but he also didn’t “wow” us with his terrific arm talent. If Mallett wants a starting job in the NFL, he is going to have to play much better throughout the rest of the preseason.
5. Jamie Collins Good Debut
Patriots second round pick Jamie Collins had a good debut from what I saw. He showed off his versatility as he lined up at a multitude of positions. He lined up on the edge, he lined up as a linebacker, as well as a inside rusher. This is what is going to make Collins so valuable to the Pats, because guys that are versatile generally fare very well under Bill Belichick.
6. Marquice Cole Best Defensive Performance
Surprisingly, I thought Marquice Cole played the best game on the defensive side of the ball for New England. He played good man to man coverage across the board, came up with a couple pass break-ups and collected four tackles. I think Cole proved to the Patriots coaches that he would be a valuable asset to their team, as either a nickel or dime defensive back.
7. Gostowski Struggles
Stephen Gostowski struggled towards the beginning of last year, and he definitely struggled last night against the Eagles. Gostowski missed two of the three field goals he attempted, and that will have to change as we advance towards the regular season opener. On a more positive note, he did do a great job on kickoffs, as the Eagles only had the opportunity to return two kicks for the game.
8. Allen, Mesko Competition
Ryan Allen and Zoltan Mesko have had an ongoing competition for the punter job throughout training camp, and after the first preseason game I can honestly say that I don’t think either of them has much of an edge on the other. Allen showed off his cannon of a leg, but I still believe that Mesko is the better “touch” punter. I think the Pats will keep both guys on the roster until the final cuts have to be made, and then make a decision.
9. Dane Fletcher
It was great to see Fletcher back out on the field after he suffered a season ending knee injury last year, and Fletcher proved once again that he is a very good coverage linebacker. He got in on a number of pass breakups in the defensive backfield, and showed very good instincts sitting back in coverage.
10. Belichick Warming Up His Challenge Flag
BB challenged a play early in the game where quarterback Nick Foles seemingly threw an incomplete pass while under pressure from Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones. But Bill threw the challenge flag and it was changed to a fumble, recovered by the Patriots. This will come in handy when the regular season starts up, because plays like those are very important come December and January.