By: Russ Goldman
My last article I gave you “Five Reasons To Watch The Patriots Pre- Season Game Against The Saints.” Well, let’s go back and see what we found out by watching the game. Before I do my analysis of the five reasons to watch I want to make a blanket statement about the Patriots play Thursday night. One word describes the play of the Pats and that is encouraging.
The Patriots won the game 27 – 24 but that is irrelevant to the overall play of the team. On offense they played with balance. On defense the Pats were flying around the ball. Special teams was good and bad. The Patriots punt and kickoff returners played very well. However, the Patriots gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return.
As I stated from the beginning, the play of the Pats was overall encouraging. In the results for the reasons for watching the game I think you will see what I am talking about. Below is an analysis of my “Five Reasons To Watch The Patriots Pre- Season Game Against The Saints.”
1. How will the young Patriots wide recievers react tomorrow night? I think the young receivers played well. I forgot to mention a young receiver in my prior article. That player would be Julian Edelman. Edelman seemed to be open constantly. He ended the game with 6 receptions for 90 yards. That statistic though does not tell you how he played. He made Saints players miss constantly and had huge yards after the catch. He also was great in returning punts.
Brandon Tate only caught one ball, but it was a key catch on a third down play for 20 yards. Taylor Price did not have a catch in the game. Overall, I would have to say the young wide receivers were encouraging.
2. How will Dan Connolly play as the replacement for Logan Mankins? Dan Connolly was a major concern for me going into the game. How would he react against a very tough Saints defense? I thought he played very well. He had an excellent block on the Benjarvis Green – Ellis run that ended in a touchdown. Connolly’s play was also encouraging.
3. How will the young linebackers play against arguably the NFL’s best offense? I was disappointed to hear before the game that Jermaine Cunningham would not be playing. He is a player I really want to see what he can offer the Pats. However, I was not disappointed by the play of two other young linebackers.
Jerrod Mayo looked solid again in the middle of the defense. He ended up with 5 tackles. More important though is he looked healthy and was around the ball.
Brandon Spikes I think is going to be a potential star in the league. He really flashed last night. He was flying around and seemed to be really involved in the defense. He led the team last night with 8 tackles.
I know it is early but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spikes and Mayo playing next to each other when the season begins. The middle of the defense could potentially be in real good hands. I guess you can say I am encouraged by this group.
4. Will the young secondary be able to handle the high power offense of the Saints? This unit overall did their job last night. The one huge stand out had to be Patrick Chung. He had 7 tackles and seemed to be all over the field. Also, I noticed he was trying hard to rip the ball out when a reciever made a catch. I think he is making serious strides.
As a unit, the defensive backs seemed to be in place and ready to hit the Saints when needed. There weren’t open receivers all over the field like the last time these teams played. This unit did their job. Again, I feel encouraged.
5. Will we see a glimpse of the old Tom Brady? I am expecting a huge year from Brady. His statistics were decent last night. Brady was 5 for 8 and with 67 yards passing. He did make a few nice passes in the game. There was a completion early in the game to Randy Moss. I thought to myself there is my glimpse of the old Tom Brady. I guess you can conclude I am encouraged with Brady as well.
I certainly had plenty to focus on Thursday night. I was really concerned how the Patriots would play in this first game. All I can say is I am happy with the result. Going into the second game I think I am looking forward to seeing more improvement. Rome was not built in a day. However, I think I saw the first brick of a new Patriot foundation Thursday night.