Patriots vs Eagles: 15 Thoughts from the First Preseason Game

Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen showed off his versatility again in the Patriots win over the Eagles. (USA Today Sports)

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

We can finally stop talking about who the Patriots lost in the off-season or whose sitting in an Attleboro jail cell and start talking about actual games. The Patriots first preseason game marked the official end to a turbulent off-season and the start of a new hope filled season. 

Even though the stars and starters were limited to a few series, there was still plenty to learn in the season’s first game. With so many new faces at key positions these games may lack intensity, but not importance.

Here is my collection of observations, thoughts and conclusions from tonight’s game.

Final Score: Patriots 31 Eagles 22

Thoughts and Observations:

1. Tom Brady played the first two series and put on an absolute clinic. After devastating the Eagles secondary in 7 on 7 all week in practice, he went 7-8 for 65 yards and a beautiful touchdown pass to Shane Vereen. The biggest question entering the game was chemistry among Brady and all his new receivers. Based on the limited exposure it appears the passing offense is on track for the start of the season.

2. The running game was even more impressive than the passing game, gashing the Eagles vulnerable run defense at will from the get go. The offensive line was able to open gaping holes and marched down the field 80 yards for a touchdown without even throwing the ball. I liked the variety of situational runs they were able to get during the game. Both Ridley and Blount converted on 3rd and short situations, which is something the team prides themselves on. Ridley’s lack of breakaway speed was put on display on the first play of the game. Ridley should have taken it to the house, but failed to kick it into another gear. He was caught from behind on a run that Shane Vereen takes to the end zone. While the passing game goes through some growing pains early in the season, it’s a good sign that the run game is already clicking on all cylinders.

3. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins flashed early while working with the first team offense. Both players made contested catches down the field, something that no Patriots receiver could do last season. Thompkins had four receptions on the touchdown drive and was utilized on some of the same routes Aaron Hernandez used to run. His sight adjustment with Tom Brady, which resulted in a quick pass at the line, is a great sign. The fact that the two can already make audibles and adjustments at the line is encouraging. Thompkins converted a big third down in which he found the sticks and caught a back-shoulder throw. I’ve seen the comparison made to Chad Johnson and after watching him in this game I’d say they look eerily similar on the field.

4. Dobson, like Thompkins, had his moments in this game. His ability to catch the ball in tight coverage is his best asset and it showed on his first reception. Dobson doesn’t get the separation of Thompkins and Boyce, but is more physical. Dobson had a bad drop in the red zone and failed to shake coverage on a couple of occasions where it looked like he could have had a big play. Dobson played most of the game and was targeted on a number of vertical passes. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Patriots choose to get him the ball, because he lacks the type of route running ability that Boyce has.

5. LeGarrette Blount would have taken home MVP honors if it was handed out today. Blount, who is in a position battle with Brandon Bolden, definitely separated himself today. Blount is a bit of an anomaly as a runner. He has a big hulking frame, yet he is more of a finesse runner. His reverse field 51 yard touchdown was fun to watch, but probably wouldn’t have worked in a real game. His ability to make defenders miss in the open field isn’t what you’d expect from a RB that big. Aside from his long TD run, he impressed on a few more runs with his lateral agility and ability to get off tackle. At this point in time, Brandon Bolden should be worrying.

6. Ryan Mallett was OK tonight. As has been the case throughout his career Mallett seemed to leave plays out on the field. While I thought he made a few really nice throws, the rollout to Sudfeld was picture perfect, his incomplete pass to Josh Boyce in the endzone is tough to forget. If Mallett is going to elevate his game to the next level those are the types of throws he needs to make. Mallett ended the night 9-18 while playing behind the second string line. Next week I’d really like to see Mallett get reps behind the first string offensive line. On a couple plays Mallett had no shot to make something happen, although he hung in the pocket nicely. Overall, it wasn’t a bad performance, but it left me wanting more from him.

7. Jamie Collins received a lot of hype coming into the game and he flashed his versatile skill-set tonight. Collins came into the game with the “twos” and was used in a number of different ways from his OLB position. Collins rushed the QB more often than he did during training camp practices. He was used as a “B-gap” blitzer and also rushed out of his slot coverage position. As the season progresses I think we’ll see Collins used in blitz packages as well as the main sub-package LB. While I was impressed with his athleticism and versatility, it looked like Collins was thinking a little too much. He was a split second slow recognizing things and getting his jump off the snap. I’m sure the game was moving fast for him and his timing will get better as the season goes on. As for his downfield coverage, it’s still and area that needs plenty of work.

8. Let’s get this over with. Tim Tebow didn’t win any fans tonight with his “Pro-Style” Quarterbacking. He was late to get rid of the ball and threw some bad incompletions. If there was one big thing to take away from Tebow tonight, it’s the offense that was run when he was in the game. We saw the Patriots run some read option, pistol and inverted wish-bone formations. Tebow was pretty effective while running the read option and marched them down the field. During camp we saw the Patriots spend plenty of time practicing the read option with Tebow. It’s pretty clear that if Tebow has to QB this team for an extended period, the offense will be altered to highlight Tebow’s strengths. I still think it’s likely he makes the team.

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Tags: 15 Thoughts, Aftermath, Patriots

13 Responses to “Patriots vs Eagles: 15 Thoughts from the First Preseason Game”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Next game i would to see more of FBs James Devlin and Ben Bartholowmew TE Brandon Ford DT Joe Vallano WRs Quinten Sims, Kamar Aiken and Josh Boyce.

  2. ChevSS says:

    Under 4 above I’m surprised to see you describe Dobson as more physical than Boyce and Thompkins. He may be bigger but one of the biggest knocks on Dobson coming out in the draft was that, despite his size, he was a finesse receiver. In studying him I found that he would rather contort his body to make an acrobatic catch than to use his body to shield the defender from the ball. Dobson has good length & he uses his basketball background to high point balls with regularity. The Patriots haven’t had that kind of receiver since ‘good’ Moss. Physical receivers, in my mind, fight off the defender, out muscle them & catch the ball against extreme contact; they lay out for the ball. That describes Boyce and Thompkins perfectly. These kids are tough. They are also impressive when using their aggressiveness to make blocks down field. Thompkins is especially tenacious with his blocks. Prior to the draft, the only WRs I had higher than Thompkins for the Pats were Markus Wheaton & Mark Harrison (IR please). http://www.patriotsplanet.com/BB/showpost.php?p=2037062&postcount=26

  3. I still don’t see much potential from Tebow and have to agree with those who ask “why is he here?” Perhaps when the cut downs come a decent backup QB will become available to push Mallette? Or not? Still I can’t see Tebow taking up a slot on the team in spite of the many who think he will.
    Can’t say I saw any joy from the DBs thus far but the front 7 looks good though not up to full potential yet. Looking forward to the next two games when we will get a clearer picture.

  4. steve says:

    I’m going to take a stronger stance on this Tebow thing, and I’m going to apologize now for discussing and/or mentioning his name.

    My biggest concern about him being on this team, even if it’s a bone thrown his way to attend a camp and show if he’s worthy, is that McDaniel’s has too much of a say in this offense and was the driving force in bringing him onboard. This I find scary…He OBVIOUSLY can NOT play the position, so why is he here???

    Now, last night may hold part of the answer. Brady can’t be taking too many preseason snaps for risk of injury, obvious enough. You want to develop & display Mallett also, while actually running your offense so these other (non-starters) can get a solid look and opportunity (I feel badly for these kids trying to make the team, because once Mallett went out and Tebow came in their chances to shine were history….the offense was not run and it became garbage time). But, at least a body could be thrown (no pun) out there to take the snaps and eat up the rest of the game. Let him take the hits and sacks in these try out/practice games.

    But, all this being said, for the sake of common sense, my sanity, etc…PLEASE CUT THIS USELESS QB and let’s get on with it already. And, if McDaniel still feels he has a purpose then maybe he needs to go with him eventually, because if an offensive coordinator still doesn’t see this obvious useless QB then I’m not sure what future he has.

    It’s now just scary to me….

  5. Walter Back says:

    O dd how people see what they want to see re Tebow. His haters are spreading their venom today but looking at vids I thought he was not too bad, played like a real football player and showed he could really run the read option with strong running. Few NFL qbs can run like Tebow. His pasing was at best spotty, but if Sudfeld had held on to a beautiful pass over the middle, Tebow could have gone probably 6 for 12 with 75 or 80 yards passing to go with his good running. IF Tim ever gets his completion % up to around 55 he will be a force in the NFL. Ithink and hope Bill and Josh keep him on the roster for a chance for this to happen. This necessary improvement has not happened yet, but if it does their are going to be alot of sad, quiet, dirtbag haters out there especially at ESPN.

  6. steve says:

    Story of the game (tryout/practice) is Thompkins. Brady was very sharp, running game looked solid, as we felt it would be with that talent, but finding a young receiver that Brady trusts and runs inside and out is huge. Forget about Mallett or Tebow…they won’t be playing regardless of making the team, so it’s not such a story. Tebow can’t play, Mallett looked just ok, and I’m hoping he plays well so they can possibly trade him…take a 4th rounder now and be done with it…Let Tebow stay and hold a clipboard, but I’d rather see his act elsewhere.

    These preseason games are not really games….they’re try outs…people are being put in situations with different combinations, putting the final score on the backburner; so, stop with the “statements” and hidden meanings to everything…JESUS!!!! If it were a game Brady would have been with the best players all game, same with the D, and the same with the Eagles.

    They simply look to have some young talent at receiver….very exciting to see. I think we knew Dobson & Boyce would be ok, and I’m not worried about the TE’s…there’s enough talent there and Gronk can take the first 6 games off without any problem. And, the defense will evolve…even if it sucks early, as it often does, it will be competitive by December like clockwork.

    The story is they have talent at receiver…we can all relax, and Thompkins is a find!

  7. Paul in Atlanta says:

    I thought Mallett was as awful as Sapp and Irvin in the booth….and he played vs many of the Eagle second stringers. We have a serious problem is #12 goes down. The Boyce miss aside, he just can’t throw timing patterns. He overthrew Sudfeld (we need a nickname for him) and Zach’s 6’7. Speaking of Zach – love this guy and his run launched me out of my chair.
    I hope we throw to Boyce more next.

    Is it time to bring in Feeley, Leinart? Yikes! Maybe trade a 7th for Jimmy Clausen???

  8. azdude says:

    all and all very positive game last night. The secondary has me worried again (yes I am aware it is only the first preseason game). I just don’t understand why we cant draft players that can be effective in the secondary. We keep wasting 2nd and 3rd round picks on these nobodies who just don’t seem to be getting it. We continuously go against the scouts and their top DB rankings. Would it have been so hard to go after a top 5 corner or safety?

    On the positive side, running game was great, TFB was TFB and the WR/TE/DL/LBs stepped up and looked good. Also, pretty excited about Tommy Kelly. I think he is going to be great next to big Vince.

  9. Chris says:

    Opening NPD this morning I was almost hoping Hope was going to being authoring the aftermath to see how he could spin Tebows performance into one of a starting QB that could lead the Pats… Normally there isn’t anything of substance to take from a preseason game to translate to the regular season but I’m officially done with Tebow, signed the paperwork this morning, and feel that the only thing he did right last night was kill the clock and not lose the game for what it’s worth. Personally I’d like Tebow to be dropped so the Pats could explore another possible option at QB since Mallett simply doesn’t look like he’s made much progress either between another lack luster camp and happy feet that betray his seemingly understanding of the Pats offense. Someone of value should be explored as preseason cuts begin across the league. The Tebow experiment is over. Don’t waste any additional reps on him and to be honest I felt badly for other receivers that he simply makes look bad with ankle tosses and duck spirals that are difficult to catch versus reps with a legit pro QB to at least accurately gauge how they perform catching semi accurate passes. Damn shame. So lets shake hands, bless each other and let the Tebow and his Pat Robertson fans go follow the CFL. God bless.

  10. JMC says:

    Blount was good (against some very bad tackling) but his balance is wrong- He’s standing too straight up and stops his legs on the first hit hoping to make a cut- He’s not going to be that type of back- They should have his watch some film of Benny when he was with the Pats- If he can adopt that form, he can be a successful situational back- if not, he may fade as the defenses get (much) better)-

  11. Rich says:

    Did Donald Jones see the field at all and if not why?

    • NEPD says:

      No. He was cut.

    • steve says:

      That’s funny…he not only quit, but he’s officially retired this week because of kidney disease. He’s been off the team for about a month, maybe longer.
      Where was Randy Vataha, why didn’t he see some action???



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