NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
It seems like a lifetime ago that the Eagles beat the Patriots in the second preseason game of the season, but I assure you it wasn’t. It was only two days ago.
The Patriots took an odd approach in this game benching many of their key players due to the fact that they have three games in the span of ten days.
Like all preseason games, there was some good and some bad, so instead of my usual six keys to defeat, I’ll split it up and do three good keys and three bad keys.
BAD: SOLDER AND CANNON
There was an elephant as tall as Nate Solder and as wide as Marcus Cannon in the room Monday night. The Patriots tackles, for lack of a better term, sucked. They were allowing edge pressure on nearly every play and were getting beat with both strength and speed.
Cannon was always projected to be a guard and his footwork and lack of quickness Monday night showed why. If Sebastian Vollmer gets hurt again at RT, the Pats could be in trouble if Cannon is forced into starting.
The tackles not only affected the Patriots quarterbacks since they couldn’t get comfortable all night, but the Patriots running game couldn’t get anything going either.
GOOD: INTERIOR LINE
On the reverse side, the Patriots “starting” interior line did a nice job on Monday night. We saw very little pressure from the Eagles tackles and were doing a nice job out in space on screen passes.
I’ve talked about him a lot this preseason, but Nick McDonald was especially impressive and did a nice job at all three positions he played: left guard, center and right tackle.
It’s good that we won’t see much of the receivers that the Patriots had on the field Monday night on fall Sundays. Jeremy Ebert was especially bad about letting the ball clang off his fingers, but there were also key drops from Tyler Urban, Danny Woodhead and Donte Stallworth. I expected more out of Ebert, but he’s been a disappointment so far.
The only two players that caught every ball thrown their way played quarterback and defensive end in college: Julian Edelman and Alex Silvestro.
GOOD: PASS COVERAGE
I charted the Patriots in pass coverage and here is what I found:
Sterling Moore – 4/5 + holding
Bobby Carpenter – 3/5
Mike Rivera – 4/4
Nate Ebner – 2/4 + interception
Marquice Cole – 3/3
Brandon Spikes – 3/3
Will Allen – 2/3 + near interception
Jeff Tarpinian – 2/2
Ras-I Dowling – 0/2
Aaron Lavarias – 0/2
Steve Gregory – 0/1
Niko Koutouvides – 1/1
Dont’a Hightower – 0/1
Patrick Chung – 0/1
Justin Francis – 0/1
Josh Barrett – 1/1
Moore wasn’t great, but he was in the whole game and allowed four receptions and one bad penalty. He didn’t allow any big plays, and he’ll be fine as a fourth corner. Rivera looked the worst in coverage, he was a downright liability. On the good end, Ebner made a nice play with his interception, Allen closed well on his near interception, Dowling is shutting down an entire side of the field and Gregory is doing what you want out of a safety, staying out of the spotlight.
It hasn’t been a major problem yet for the Patriots, but the main reason the Patriots lost this game was because the Patriots should have got the ball back, but lost it on a muffed punt by Brandon Bolden, then on their next possession lost the ball on a Brian Hoyer fumble on second down.
GOOD: GENERATING PRESSURE
The Patriots didn’t get any sacks on Monday night, but they generating some nice pressure and had six QB hits (including one that will likely be shown all year because it bruised Michael Vick’s ribs). Jermaine Cunningham looked like a man possessed, Chandler Jones was using his hands well in his limited time and Trevor Scott was flying off the snap. Kyle Love and Ron Brace really flashed in the middle of the Patriots defense as well, and that’s not shabby for two traditional nose tackles. Marcus Forston was flying off the snap as well, we can only hope he stays healthy and can slip through to the practice squad.
Watching this game again was a nice preview for Friday night’s game against the Buccaneers. It will also be refreshing to see the starters back out on the field to evaluate.