Often times, we rush to conclusions after a loss and think Armageddon is coming and how this is going to be a bad year. To remember that so many people didn’t play against Green Bay, especially starters, is key. We have to take it for what it was and go forward. With New Orleans coming up, here are some things to watch for.
Jimmy Garrapolo had a decent 2nd half after he settled down and was better. I think he showed more good than bad. He wasn’t helped by his WR corps and offensive line (that in a minute), but he showed poise and made some great throws. He has a lot of work to do, but if he has to play, I’m sure McDaniels will do enough to get him ready. Seeing how he plays against an aggressive blitzing package that Rob Ryan likes to employ should see if he learned from the Packers game.
To say that Josh Boyce’s game was a nightmare is an understatement. He seemed disconnected and didn’t fight for any balls. It’s a mild surprise he hasn’t been released yet, but his deep speed might keep him around for a few more weeks. Chris Harper and Jonathan Krause were by far the most impressive WR’s in the game and along with Brandon Gibson, will be vying for that 5th WR spot on the roster behind Edelman, LaFell, Amendola and Dobson. Either way, their presense on the practice squad is almost assured.
The offensive line was a sieve, allowing 7 sacks and countless pressures. Moving Chris Barker to LT made little sense as he was consistently dominated. Like Garrapolo’s play, you can’t judge the whole line by its backups. Shaq Mason had a great block on a pull that sprung Jonas Gray’s 55 yard TD run, but he struggled in pass blocking. David Andrews was surprisingly solid at C and G and could be a keeper going forward. I remember when Ryan Wendell was stuck on the inactive list/practice squad for a few years before he was ready to contribute. Andrews could be a similar story.
Even with the injuries to Rufus Johnson and Trey Flowers being unknown at this point, their play is indicative of how the defense will be this year. They are taking a similar modus operandi of the Giants and having an incredibly aggressive pass rush to make up for an average secondary. Even though the secondary played very well at times, there is a lot of inexperience there. Knowing that Belichick and Patricia will coach them up eases the worry.
The negative of the defense was their run defense, but seeing that Branch and Siliga didn’t play in the middle might be responsible for that. But the missed tackles, especially by Cameron Gordon on the edge was frustrating. Jonathan Freeny had a rough first quarter but seemed to settle down. Seeing how well the DT’s and the LB’s hold up against the new aggressive Saints O Line and running attack could be indicative of how well the Pats can be run on. In spite of all the questions, this defense will be much more aggressive this year than last year and that could be a very good thing.
To remember that the preseason are glorified practices is very important. This is the team figuring out roster moves and experimenting with different plays on both sides of the ball. The game showed that the Pats are going to be chippy and aggressive and won’t back down from a fight. With most people signaling the end of the Pats dominance of the AFC East with the moves the Jets, Bills and Dolphins made, this shows that they aren’t going down without a fight.