Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: 20 minutes from Foxboro
TC observations: ST holders/Foxboro resident night practice
Attended the season ticket/Foxboro resident practice last night.. had my first look at Ocho Cinco, Albert Haynesworth, and Ryan Mallet.
This was a shorts and shells practice- light pads. No hitting. A couple situational football, no huddle, hurry up offense. Brady took his squad down the field, Mallet sputtered. Plenty of routes drills- trying to get down the timing- and consequently saw a lot of line-free 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills that focused on routes and backer zone coverage.
BB was unusually short-tempered. I think he is feeling the effect of a compressed camp, trying to get a lot done in the little amount of time he has, and what with the new rules, cutting down on 2 a day and pads.
I had a good look at Haynesworth, and my first immediate impression was a good one. He was being a JAG (Just Another Guy). He didn’t stand out. He and Wilfork seems to have bonded immediately which I think is a very good sign, because it makes Haynesworth more accountable, and less likely to take the “me” route. Haynesworth isn’t there physically, yet- he is not 100% but that will change, I am sure.
And as for all the talk about going 4-3, that is not happening. The system is the same- I did see a lot of 40 fronts and I guess that may be where all the talk is coming from but the personnel going on the field is still the same for a 3-4. A fair amount of the formation was in the sub package that you saw a lot of last year, the 40 front nickel. The only surprise was seeing where Haynesworth lined up- it wasn’t where I was expecting; but it is something that a lot of you will like- and if it works out, I think it will create a lot of havoc. I will tell you that I think it is just perfect. Haynesworth is not a great individual pass rusher- he is at his best when he is wreaking havoc on the line (which is the purpose of the front line in a 3-4), and I think that he will really excel, if everything works out.
And as for Ocho Cincho- his behavior is a social psychologist’s fantasy.. he is a fascinating study. I will tell you one thing- the man is very intense. He is a very hard worker. He takes things very seriously. I think he is feeling like a reborn football player right now. One thing I want to point out, from my observations is that we should all temper our expectations of him for the first few RS games. There will be a few sputters and misses before he clicks. But when he does and I think he will, I think it will be Randy Moss version 2.0, except as a horizontal threat. He still has a long way to go before mastering the complex route tree in our system, but the good thing is that he is talking to everyone- he talks to BOB, talks to Brady, BB, and even Bodden. He is turning over every stone, and asking every question that can possibly be asked.
One of the best thing about this practice was what happened afterwards, after most people had left- Ocho, Brady, BOB, and Welker all stayed behind to work on the calls and audibles at the line where Brady would throw his looks, signals, and other non-verbal communications. It was awesome to see Brady go through the massive adjustments on just a few route (split wide/in, combo, option 9 combo and I think, OVS), and the variations: zone/man inside/out, over/under, roll out/in- and a couple dozen other subtle adjustments I couldn’t even begin to identify. I saw Ocho become visibly frustrated as Brady progressed down the list of massive adjustments, but Brady was very patient with Ocho and walked him through everything. Welker stepped in on a few occasions to physically demonstrate the alignment, stem and breaks. Again, as I pointed out- it will take Ocho some time to catch up, and so I would caution against expecting anything from him for the first few games, but if he keeps up the intensity and focus he exhibited last night. It would not be remiss to expect great things from him.
Mallet has a rocket for an arm and I mean a f—king rocket. He shows flashes of greatness at times- and his heart and mind is in the right places, and those are the things you can’t teach. I was also very surprised by how much of the offense he commands to this point, and I believe this is what led to the release of Crompton. His footwork and route diligence and accuracy is another story, but those are all easily worked on. Of all the receivers to pick for a go-to, his go to man is Slater, for some weird reason. This is something that doesn’t happen consciously- it’s just a natural process, but I don’t think Slater will be with us for long, so I wish he’d pick someone with more job security.
For all the bad press that they receive, Spikes and Mallet spent a very long time with the fans afterwards, signing autographs into the wee hours.