Overall, nice way to get a W and start the season. The team got out to an early lead on an unprepared opponent and let the foot off of the throttle, but it was a solid three phase victory. There was a lot to be enthused about this afternoon, but there were also things to temper this excitement. Here are my impressions/observations. I may be wrong, but this is just how I saw it. Defensively: Patricia and Belichick are a mean tandem. For the longest time I have harped on how pass rush and pressure were schemed things, not tallent based. Today was a great example of this. Each blitz, pressure scheme, and flushing play were brilliantly designed. There were intricate loops, zone blitzes, stunts and slants. Much is made of two-gap in this scheme, but two-gap was played about 45% of the time, and was done in obvious rushing situations only. This makes sense as two gap is a run concept, but to dial up one gap stuff in run situations shows a commitment to athleticism and creativity. The addition of Spikes cannot be understated. With the timely additon of a true Mike backer, the Patriots can now have some schematic flexability. The best example of this was the Guyton pick-6. A well rested situational player placed in the right position creates points. Mayo played well in his natural Will role, and Spikes was quite good for his first game as a pro playing Mike. He can do a better job with his disengagement, but this will come with time and experience. He is the catalyst for the sudden flexability of the front-7. Patrick Chung is everything we were banking on. A rugged, tough tackler with exceptional burst to the football. Notice that not only does he not miss a tackle, he stones the momentum and ends the play at the point of contact. This is perhaps the single most important attribute a defensive player can have. End the play when you arrive. His playmaking will improve with development and experience, but as it stands right now he is playing at an upper eschelon strong safety level. I thought Meriweather got dinged up, and James Sanders coming in hurt the team. Prior to Meriweather getting hurt, Sanders was getting subpackage reps at Mike. It is amazing to see the creativity that this team was once predicated upon come back, and this only comes with depth. Let's hope that Meriweather can come back soon, because the safety play was noticeably worse when Sanders was moved from his situational role to FS. Oh, and McCourtey. Yeah. Offense: Well. It feels nice to see the O clicking like it should. It's like they have a boss that comes over and says, "Hey, you are appreciated. I love you. You are the best receiver ever. You have phenominal corn rows. I like your large headphones." Now, y'all can spin that however you want, but thats the troof right there. Brady looks good. Logan who? Did they draft good tight ends? Welker definately did strike a deal with Satan. Less obviously, there was some legit plays executed there. The beginning plays were incredibly intelligent coverage drawing plays that created easy single reads for the QB. I was the biggest Bill O'Brien hater out there last year and am now eating my words. The guy drew up some phenominal plays for today, understood coverages, and when he went to the run they were directional plays that leveraged the strengths of a well coached line. Nice work out there. Special Teams: Anytime you make your team faster and more athletic, you are going to see a significant return on your special teams. They were covering exceptionally well, they were blocking exceptionally well, and obviously Tate is legit. They can use more reps with the kickers, but they will only improve as the season goes on. This is going to be the strongest unit on the team this season, and will win games for them. My overall impression was that this team is legit. They began to hide things after the second quarter, and it tells me that Belichick's great effort is going to be something significant. For the first time in two years this team outcoached the opponent by an appreciable margin. There is a lot to be excited about this season. While the Bengals did not play well in the first half, the effort and schematic excellence cannot be overlooked. The Patriots outcoached their opponent today. When could you say that last season?