The second preseason game of the year is in the books, as the Patriots defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-21. Once again, the Patriots first team offense was very impressive, and the first unit on the defensive side of the ball impressed as well. Here are five “quick reaction” takeaways from tonight’s game.
1. Brady-Amendola Connection
The rapport between Brady and the new crop of rookie receiver has been well advertised. Kenbrell Thompkins had a great game last Friday against the Eagles, and over the past week, that has been one of the main topics discussed when it came to the Patriots. Amid all of this hoopla surrounding the rookies, we seemed to have forgotten about newcomer Danny Amendola.
I assure you, we won’t forget about him from here on out.
Brady and Amendola connected six times for a total of 71 yards, and hooked up for a 26 yard score. Amendola ran sharp, crisp routes, and except for one third down miscommunication, they were both on the same page throughout the game. Amendola flashed his vaunted quickness, and athleticism, and I am sure that this is a big sign of things to come from these two players.
2. Dobson’s Tumble Down The Depth Chart
Aaron Dobson slipped coming down the home stretch of training camp, and we saw the consequences of this tonight, as there were four other receivers put onto the field before Dobson. Dobson is a very talented receiver, with a lot of potential, but he seems to lack the route-running ability of some of his comrades. Dobson saw only two snaps while Tom Brady was under center, and he only managed to come up with two catches the rest of the way. Dobson is going to have to work on the little things (catching the ball, being in the right place) if he wants to move his way back up the depth chart and begin to earn the trust of his quarterback.
3. Chandler Jones, Brandon Spikes And The Pats Front Seven
The Patriots sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman three times in the first quarter tonight, and finished the night with four total sacks. A lot of credit has to be given to the Patriots secondary, because there were a couple plays where Freeman had to hold the ball for a good five seconds, because he could not find an open receiver.
The Pats front seven managed to generate a lot more pressure tonight than they did last week against the Eagles, and defensive end Chandler Jones led the charge. Jones showed why many experts believe he can be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL once he develops further. Jones was explosive off the line, and he disrupted a number of Buccaneer plays. He finished the night with one sack and two tackles for a loss.
Brandon Spikes was another guy on the Pats front seven that impressed tonight. He showed once again that he is one of the top run stoppers in the league, and his vaunted “blitzing up the middle” really destroyed a couple of Buccaneer possessions.
4. Ryan Mallett Much Improved Performance
Mallett got off to a rough start tonight, with a bad three and out on his first drive, but he settled down and put forth a very good performance after that. He made solid decisions, and his throws (for the most part) were on target. His management of the offense was extremely impressive, particularly in a two minute drill towards the end of the first half. He marched his team right down the field, and set them up with a short field goal to end the half (penalties forced Gostkowski into a 50 yard field goal which he clanked off the post). Mallett seemed to “own” the offense, and that is a huge improvement from what we had seen prior to tonight.
5. Rookies Zach Sudfeld And Jamie Collins Played Well
Perhaps the most consistent player (aside from Brady) throughout training camp has been rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld. He impressed again tonight with a couple of great catches in the end zone, and at first glance, was much better on the blocking front. Sudfeld is a great athlete for a guy his size, and he is quickly becoming a favorite of both Brady and Mallett.
Jamie Collins might not have had a “flashy” performance in the Pats win, but he certainly impressed me with his play. Collins spent the majority of his time on the field playing as a linebacker as opposed to a pass rusher which is what he had done last week against the Eagles. He played solid pass defense, and made a couple of great plays stopping the run. Collins athleticism allows him to be a very versatile player, and therefore he was able to play linebacker for the majority of the game. Collins led the team with six total tackles on the night.