August 14, 2004
Patriots Start Out Just Fine
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Despite the usual roll of the eyes that goes along with these preseason games, there were indeed a lot of story lines going into the Patriots’ first game. While we didn’t get all the answers we were looking for; a few questions were answered in the Patriots’ 24-6 win over the Eagles last Friday night.
The fact that the Patriots came out relatively injury-free is the most important point to remember about 24-6 victory over the Philadephia Eagles. Nothing else comes close. The same could not be said for the Eagles however, who suffered at least three serious injuries in the game.
In the backfield, Corey Dillon looked like the advertised goods by gaining good yardage in limited action by hitting the hole quickly and making Eagle tacklers miss. Dillon received a loud ovation from the Foxboro Faithful after his first run. Let’s give Dillon some breathing room. In Cincinnati, for years he was the man and the only one selling jerseys in the Bengals’ Pro Shop. In New England, Dillon won’t have that pressure. He just has to be a piece of a puzzle. The thing that is salivating to me is the fact that this will make Tom Brady’s play action fakes even more believable; if that is possible.
It was also intriguing to see Troy Brown line up on the defensive side of the ball as a slot cornerback with the first-team defense. He jammed a receiver or two within the prescribed five yards, made a few tackles, and even made it look like this crazy experiment might have some potential. My guess is that Coach Bill Belichick thought back to the late fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and the harried situation when he had both of his safeties knocked out with injuries. If Brown can be an emergency defensive back, so be it. The same could be said for Dan Klecko lining up with the first team offense as a blocking fullback for Dillon. And by agreeing with this move, I am officially taking Belichick off the hook if Brown or Klecko go down with an injury on their opposite side of the ball.
It was also refreshing to see new punter Josh Miller average 49 yards a punt while giving his coverage team plenty of time to get under his punts. Consistent punting by Miller will give the Patriots defense an extra 15 yards of field possession cushion this season. Couple this with Dillon wearing down teams in the second half and the Patriots defense is poised to be perhaps even more dominating than last year.
Also, linebacker Rosevelt Colvin has come all the way back from a fractured hip and played with the first team defense against the Eagles. Let us not forget that he was the premier free agent signing in the entire League a year ago. Even if he’s only three-quarters of the player that he was before his injury last year, a healthy Colvin would add some necessary depth to an aging, thin linebacking corps.
On a negative note, backup quarterback Rohan Davey did not look sharp against Philadelphia’s first and second team defense in the first half and early in the second half. Coming off his NFL Europe MVP spring, we were lead to believe that Davey has had a tremendous camp so far. It appeared Davey just never found his rhythm during the game against the Eagles. He didn’t seem to read the Eagle defenses quickly and be decisive enought with his throws. The clock is ticking for Davey to prove that he is the alternative to Brady. Otherwise, Belichick will be forced to either go with veteran Jim Miller (still injured) or scan the waiver wire for an alternative in case of a doomsday scenario of Tom Brady going down with an injury. Brady is the one irreplaceable part in Belichick’s inter-changeable Patriots lineup.
I hope you don’t think that I am drawing a check directly from the Patriots’ Public Relations department. Its just that it is impossible not to be excited about this upcoming season. It’s all here for us to watch: the League’s premier quarterback, a historically significant defense, a cerebral coaching staff and even a decent punter. Indeed, these are heady times for Patriots fans.
Let’s try to stay humble. Because if history is any indication, something unimaginable will happen to this team.
I’m sorry. It’s just the Red Sox fan in me talking.
Idle Zinger thoughts while having my head examined for watching a preseason game in a downpour:
A sure sign that you are at a preseason game: The girlfriend of the guy sitting in front of me asks him, “How many downs do they get?”
And while I’m on the subject: If you are a season ticket holder, these preseason games are good for one thing and one thing only. Namely, settling old, vague (perhaps drunken) promises to take either a nagging girlfriend, wife, Nova Scotian, co-worker, pet parakeet, or even Mr. Patsfans.com himself Ian Logue to “a game.” I suppose it’s like a penance for being able to go to the rest of the season without a guilty conscience. The mother-to-be Mrs. Rousseau snuffed out this scheme a few years ago when she said there was no way she was getting the wool pulled over her eyes and would only go to a regular season game.
The best deal in the Patriots Pro Shop is the 2004 Media Guide for $10. It weighs in at a solid 484 pages.
Frankly, I would love to learn how to play “Madden 2005” but I’m worried that it’s impossible to learn from scratch. Is anybody else out there a fellow member of the video game stone age? Perhaps there is hope since I did show a relatively decent aptitude for Space Invaders and Asteroids a decade or two ago.
The Boston Herald’s Michael Felger pointed out that the last seven times the Pats have made the playoffs, they’ve had a winning record in the preseason.
In former Patriot news: CNNSI’s Peter King said in his MMQB column that Damien Woody came into Lions camp 20 lbs overweight. And former special teams player and current Miami Dolphin Chris Akins is done for the season after tearing up his right knee.
Former Raider Tim Brown did not endear himself to his former employer when he was quoted in the Contra Costa Times as saying that senior personnel exec Mike Lombardi sold the idea to head coach Norv Turner to release Brown because “it can never be your team as long as Brown is here. And that was the truth. If I was there, it was going to be because the guys were going to listen to me…And the decisions I made in the locker room had always worked out for us.”
And even if you think it is perfectly normal to sit in a rainstorm to see if rookie cornerback Dexter Reid is the real deal, I would like to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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