The New England Patriots successfully moved ahead with a 25-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going 2-0 on the preseason. While both teams got to learn a great deal from the three days of joint practices and their preseason game, there is still a long way to go to for both teams to be where they need to be. If ever there was a misperception that training camp is over, as a reporter insinuated (not once but twice) to coach Bill Belichick during his post game press conference, coach Belichick answered, “Training camp isn’t over”. Again, let coach Belichick rephrase that, “Training camp’s not over, no. Our team is still in a growing stage. We have a lot of work to do. We’re nowhere close to where we need to be for the opener or for the 16-game regular season schedule. We have a lot of work to do. We’re going to stay at it. It’s not over by any means. We’re not anywhere close to where we need to be. Training camp is not over. Let me make that perfectly clear.” Got that?
While there was an outstanding dominance by Tom Brady (nothing new), Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski’s semi-clone Zach Sudfeld continue to show they are not just a contributor, but game-changers. However, our special teams must do better on kick and punt return. Allowing a 63 and 40 yards return is not in the job description. And there’s nothing more aggravating to coach Belichick and Brady than committing penalties causing the team to move backwards and lose points in the process.
Unlike Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams who said the Patriots were playing dirty, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players showed appreciation for the joint practice opportunity and praised the Patriots unit.
Two times pro bowl (2011, 2012) safety Dashon Goldson appreciates having the joint practice as he said, “It was worthwhile. We got a lot of good looks. They are a good football team and it definitely helped out.” When sharing his experience in practicing and playing against Tom Brady, Goldson truly values how great Brady is as he said, “Oh man, Brady is Brady. He is a good quarterback, phenomenal. He knows what he is doing. He is a smart football player and a lot of people say he is a great teammate. You definitely want to go out there and compete every time, especially when you go against a caliber team like this. It gets the best out of you. It was great practicing against them. ”
2010 Pro Bowl offensive tackle and ranked 97th in the top 100 players of 2012 Donald Penn expressed the value of going up against a good team and praises the Patriots defensive line. “They are pretty good. It speaks for itself. We got some good work against a quality defensive line. We have a quality defensive line too, but we go against them every day. It was good to go against someone new and different. They have a good defense over there, my hat is off to them.”
As coach Belichick values the opportunity by emphasizing as a great learning and preparation experience for the coaches as well as for the players in preparing for the season, I believe it’s a great balance to figure out where we need to improve and to bring the best of competitiveness out of each player in our team. In this second preseason game, it was clear to see the level of confidence of our offense and defense, as well as where the team must work on. Again, it’s only a preseason game, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers we will face in Week 3 will certainly not be the same with the presence of a healthy Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph and Darrelle Revis. But I also see the potential our team has to continue to be a super bowl contender despite of the challenges faced in the past months and the daily adjustments.