In the Patriots 2014 preseason opener, they struggled out of the gates, falling to the Redskins by a score of 23-6
We shouldn’t overreact to this, as Bill Belichick elected to rest most of his starters, but nevertheless, it was a poor performance from New England. All eyes were on Ryan Mallett in the first half, and he did pretty much exactly what he has done his entire career. Make a nice play, then follow it up with a horrid play. Of course, it didn’t help that he had a (mostly) second team offensive line in front of him, so he was scrambling for his life 90% of the time.
However when he did have ample time, Mallett showed off his ridiculous arm. He fired quite a few rockets to his wideouts, which is why he has the potential to be a starting quarterback in this league. But he didn’t play nearly as well as he should have, and I think his stock is dropping as we speak. He needs to be more decisive, more aware in the pocket, and most importantly, more consistent. Mallett got six drives in the first half, completing five of 12 passes, for 55 yards. His quarterback rating was a 55.9.
In the second half, it was up to Jimmy Garoppolo to give the Pats’ offense some hope, and he delivered. Right of the bat you could tell he was going to have a good day, as he was firing all around the field, finding Josh Boyce, and Brian Tyms multiple times. He dropped an absolute beauty to Tyms in the end zone, which should have resulted in a touchdown. He then hit Tyms again later on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 53 yard gain. Garoppolo has a nice quick release, great touch on the deep ball, and flashed a bit of his mobility on a fourth and goal deep in Redskins’ territory in the third. Garoppolo led the Pats to their only score of the night with under two minutes left, as he moved them 78 yards in five plays, capping it off with a 26 yard touchdown pass to Tyms.
For the night, Garoppolo completed nine of 13 passes for 157 yards, and one touchdown.
The defense was filled with second and third stringers, so unsurprisingly they struggled. Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and Brandon Browner were the only starters that played in this game, although they were all gone by the fourth series. The backup linebackers were particularly bad, missing tackles, getting sucked up on play-action, and getting beat in the passing game all night long. The Pats may be in trouble if one of their top linebackers goes down.
Colt McCoy led the Skins on a beautiful 10 play, 65 yard touchdown drive in the third quarter to seal the outcome of this game. McCoy was very impressive against New England’s backups, completing eight of nine passes, for 102 yards, and a touchdown.
As a whole, the defense gave up 387 total yards, 210 passing, and 177 rushing.
Overall, aside from a few bright spots, this was a rough opener for the Patriots. But this is preseason, and there were a ton of backups on the field tonight. When the starters play next week, we will see a much better performance.
Be sure to stay here on Musket Fire all night for more takeaways, analysis, and breakdowns from tonight’s game.