What is Brian Waters phone number and can we give him a quick call?
Chandler Jones – A
Jones was the star of the show vs. the Saints and proved to me that he can be a much better pro than college player. He straight dominated Jermon Bushrod at times and was a constant presence in the Saints backfield. Jones should take over Andre Carter’s role admirably.
Dont’a Hightower – B+
Hightower is a revelation on this defense and his football IQ is off the charts. Hightower’s a rookie and played all three linebacker positions in his first game. There were times when he was slightly out of position and times when he needed to wrap up when he was out thumping instead.
Tavon Wilson – B
I thought Wilson played fine from what I saw. The best part about him is that he looks comfortable out there and doesn’t look out of position. He seems to have made the transition from corner to safety very well.
Jake Bequette – B+
Bequette looked better in game than he has in practice. He showed off some nice quickness and change of direction and recorded one of the Patriots two sacks. He’ll make the team and should carve out a nice role by the end of the season.
Nate Ebner – B
Ebner looked ahead of the curve on kickoff coverage and could actually make the team since he’s already taking first team reps in special teams. He’s going to be a liability at safety for a while, but it was impressive in it’s own right that he even got a shot back there on Thursday night.
Jeremy Ebert – B-
It would be tough to give anyone a negative grade based on tonight. Ebert just showed me the least out there. I’ll need to see him in action more, and I’ll be very interested to watch him as a returner.
Mallett looked a little rough around the edges on Thursday night. He had a major problem over shooting his targets and his accuracy was really all over the place in general. He was getting rushed pretty heavily out there and his offensive line wasn’t helping him much.
I’m still not convinced that Mallett will be the QB of the future on this team. If Brady really intends to play into his 40s and if he’s still playing at a high level when Mallett’s contract is up, Mallett will have to be very impressive to overtake Brady’s role. I also believe that at some point, Mallett’s value will be too high for the Patriots to not accept the draft picks they’ll be able to get in return. On top of that, when Mallett’s contract is up, they’ll either need to franchise him or pony up big bucks to keep him. That is, if he develops enough to be a starting QB. After watching tonight, he definitely needs some work to get to that point.
Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones will share that role. Jones has been lining up at RDE, which is usually the spot for the better pass rusher, but Nink was impressive as a pass rusher last year and now that he’s given his SLB duties over to Hightower, he’ll be able to focus on that craft even more. The Pats have some talented pass rushers on this team, and if Andre Carter comes back, it’ll be even more potent. I think we can consider Jermaine Cunningham and Trevor Scott for the chopping block. If the Patriots have Ninkovich, Jones and Carter at DE, that could be one of the best pass rushing trios in the league.