Observations on preseason game 1 Despite this being a preason game, we did have a real game going for at least a full half. There was little vanilla from the first string from both sides. THE NEW DEFENSE Was surprised that we threw as many looks as we did today, a lot of 3-4, a little 4-3, rushing and a lot of blitzing (I bet at least half our plays on D were blitzes), plenty of 4 and 5 men rushing, delayed blitzing and one seven men blitz with Chung (if I recall correctly). The fun part for me was having Spikes bluff as a 3 tech to give a 4 man front look so you didn't know if it was going to stay 3-4 or turn 4-3, and he would either rush or drop back. This is just mindblowing to me that they are already doing this right off the bat, and especially with Spikes. I t just occured to me that Spikes is going to be a rock star in this system because the 3-4 2 gap has the LB'ers making most of the plays. This basically allows him free rein on his instincts. I am going to bet the house that Spikes is going to end up worthy of a DROY (although jays52 called it way before any of us did). Wheatley made a good case for himself in terms of making the squad. He was alert to a quick slant and read a rollout perfectly, and didn't bite on it. THE PRESSURE IS BACK Tonight we saw the pocket collapse a lot on Brees, forcing plenty of premature throws. G. Warren put in a very strong showing at LDE, getting plenty of pressures and one sack, and Murrell really crunches the edge- he is more of a DE than an OLB and was very effective whether in 3 point, standing up, or playing in open space (dropping back in coverage). I think that Mayo is really coming into his own, he audibled out of a few run sets. I would say that Spikes is going to steal all the attention, but Mayo is going to be the brains and the workhorse. He really got Brees's tendencies and tell, down, and audibled a fair amount of time (this shows that he spends a lot of time in the video room). This is a bulkier D that has a mean streak to it. We had the ability to collapse the edge and that, I thought, was very significant. Our run stopping looked good for the most part, I thought- our only bad turn came on the dump off to Bush into the EZ that caught us flat-footed (including Spikes). RETURN TO SMASHMOUTH FOOTBALL I am really liking the new look we have on offense. There is a renewed emphasis on making the run game a vital part of our offense. In general I thought the screens and pulls worked for the most part against the Saints first string, and I could not notice the absence of Logan Mankins having any undue effect. Connolly did a great job in his place and had a nice pulling block on BJGE's TD. Putting a lot of emphasis on the run game kept the Saints blitzing and rushing in check. All of our TD's came via rushing TDs. We also seem to have broken out of our red zone problems. However our TE's have their work cut out for them. Gronk has a lot of work to do on his blocking game. And one thing that worries me about Hernandez is that he seems overtly emotional, and needs to develop a short memory on unsuccessful plays. BJGE did great tonight, didn't miss any blocks, caught all of his passes out of the backfield, and would have had 2 TD's if Maroney hadn't subbed for him. And yes Edelman was great; so good he faked himself out of one of his shoes if anyone noticed that. VINTAGE TOM BRADY Don't know if any of you noticed it but the old Brady is back; there is a lot of pop in his throwing now. He is not as hesitant as he was last preseason, and didn't have any problems following through or stepping into his throws. The team isn't as lost as it looked last preseason. I can see why he has been ill-tempered lately. He is really anxious to get back to playing football the way he used to. He is acting like he has unfinished business.