Pats Look Good Against Eagles
The Patriots defeated the Eagles on Friday, but preseason football isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about evaluating players and seeing if the team looks like it is taking positive steps to get better.
For the Patriots, there were a lot of positives. The biggest question in training camp has been the offense, whether the large turnover in personnel would doom the up-tempo, efficient attack. While it’s just one preseason game, the results were positive.
The Patriots featured a powerful running game, running six straight times and scoring on their opening drive. Stevan Ridley started the game with a 62-yard run that was almost a touchdown. LaGarrette Blount led all running backs with 101 rushing yards, while Shane Vereen added a highlight-worthy, one-handed touchdown from Tom Brady. Tim Tebow even contributed four rushes for 31 yards. The only disappointment was Brandon Bolden, who had 14 yards on four carries. Bolden is battling with Blount for a spot and looks to be on the outside looking in.
The rookie wide receiver trio of Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins looked like they belonged. Tight end Zach Sudfeld looked good as well, showing off some nice athleticism with a 22-yard catch from Ryan Mallett. Julian Edelman, meanwhile, looked lost, fumbling twice and dropping some passes. It was assumed he would take a larger role on the offense with the departure of Welker, but if his performance is a sign of things to come, then Edelman is on the roster-bubble.
Brady looked dominant, making every throw. He doesn’t look 36 and, believe it or not, looks as good as ever. Mallet continues to frustrate, as his performance was filled with bad passes and bad decisions. He missed a few throws, including a would-be TD to Dobson early in the game. Mallett has not lived up to the hype since entering the NFL. At this rate, Mallett could be looking for a new team. Tebow didn’t light it up either, and looked average in the traditional and run-option offense. It would be a surprise to see him make the roster at this point.
As for the defense, they looked like the defense of old, especially the starters. The Eagles moved up and down the field early, especially on their opening drive when Michael Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a 47-yard TD. Talib was covering on the play and didn’t open up his hips fast enough, showing some stiffness. While the secondary was without Devin McCourty and Alfonzo Dennard, it performed badly enough to cause some concern, especially when it comes to depth at corner back. If Dennard misses time due to his recent legal troubles, the CB position could be one of concern.
The front seven, however, was impressive, stifling the Eagles running game and creating a good amount of pressure on the quarterback. Marcus Benard could take the role of Jermaine Cunningham last year, rushing from the inside on third-downs. Benard showed off a good burst and looks to be one of the better pass-rushers on the team. Dane Fletcher, in his first game back since tearing his ACL last preseason, also looked good, especially in coverage. Chandler Jones didn’t flash a lot on rushes, getting contained for the majority of his snaps. Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork look like the real deal in the middle of the defense, and could form one of the better duos in the league.
At the end of the day, it’s one preseason game. While the Patriots have a long way to go, and a lot to do, they are promising aspects to their team that they can build upon. Remember, the preseason isn’t a preview of things to come, only a preview of where the team is at. There are still three more games to played, and so much can change. In the meantime, enjoy it and watch as the team shapes itself.