Patriots 6 Redskins 23
Preseason Game 1 Thoughts
First off, this game was pretty tough to watch. The team looked flat the entire night and never really found themselves. The legit starters for the Patriots didn’t get to play either so while the team didn’t look too good the best players didn’t even touch the field for the Patriots. The list of players who didn’t play Thursday night includes Brady, Mayo, Revis, Gronk, Edelman, Mankins, McCourty, Hightower, Collins, and Amendola. Thursday night was a showcase night for many of the depth players on the roster to earn their place on this team. While it was tough to watch most of the night, there were certainly some bright spots in there as well. I’m going to take a look at this through positives and negatives even though the negatives will outweigh the positives after this dismal performance by the Patriots.
· The Offensive Line
o This mainly applies to the first half, but could be applied to the entire game too. The pass protection for Mallet throughout was suspect. Early on, Mallet made a nice throw to LaFell to convert a 3rd down only to see it taken back because of a Solder holding penalty. The rest of the half Solder struggled. Mallet’s struggles could be directed toward the OL play in front of him. They struggled to contain the Skins pass rush all night.
o The run blocking was rough as well. On the first attempt of the day, Ridley saw at least 4 Redskins in the backfield the moment he took the handoff, luckily he found a way to gain 2 yards somehow. As a team that Patriots had 24 carries for 63 yards and a really crappy 2.6 YPC average and a lot of that falls on the offensive line for not opening up holes for the runners.
· Ryan Mallet
o Yes, I know the OL play was bad, which could be a reason for Mallet’s struggles but still he did not look very good. He didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and rushed his movements and progressions. The easy play to look at with a magnifying glass is the quick slant to LaFell that was thrown at his feet killing the chance at a first down. The offense didn’t do anything when Mallet was at the helm, which sucks because this was sort of a showcase game for him.
· The Front 7 (Anderson, Beauharnais and Fleming in particular)
o Didn’t come close to hitting the quarterback and did a really poor job penetrating the LOS on run plays. All of the LBs took really bad angles all night and looked to be caught out of place a lot. The defensive line rarely set the edge well, too. Granted, the team did not have the entire starting LB core and the starting DL only played a couple series, but still these depth players did not do their jobs very well out there.
· Logan Ryan
o This is mainly because I have very high expectations for Ryan heading into this season to develop into a better player. Two plays in particular stick out from Ryan’s play the other night. One was in the first half I believe and the Pats had the Skins backed up on their own 1 and Ryan let Robinson slant right in front of his face for an easy 15 yard pickup getting them out of trouble. Then, a second play Ryan got beat down the sideline on a nice throw and catch. Overall I thought he looked subpar. Hopefully he can turn it around and become the player we all expect him to be.
· Jimmy Garoppolo
o Yes, he was playing vs. vanilla defense against Washington’s 2s and 3s but still this kid looked good. He looked to be very comfortable in the pocket and made a lot of very good decisions. He throws a beautiful deep ball, that’s for certain. He had 3 throws that beyond impressed me; all of them were thrown toward Tyms. The first was the deep ball in the third which was incomplete, the second was the first play of the 4th quarter where Jimmy sent a beauty down the sideline to Tyms for a huge gain, and the 3rd impressive throw was the TD toss to Tyms, yet another perfectly placed pass over the shoulder. IF Garoppolo can continue to make throws like that in these situations Mallet may be on the chopping block.
· Brandon LaFell/ Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms
o LaFell didn’t do much, but he looked good when he was out there and did do something. I thought he looked smooth running routes and seems to have a lot of length to offer on the field which Brady will use to an advantage. Boyce made a couple catches but again just looked electric to me once he touches the ball. This kid is certainly talented, but he can’t seem to fully put it together yet. Hopefully he does, because he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The obvious positive here was Tyms as he put up 120 yards and the lone Patriot score of the game off of a beauty pass from Jimmy G. Tyms may have been playing vs. vanilla defense and not much contact at the line, but he still went out and produced in the stage that demanded it. It will be interesting to follow him the rest of preseason and see how he and Garoppolo develop together.
· Malcom Butler
o Effort is the first word that comes to mind when I think of his performance. Butler was all over the field all night. He should’ve had at least 2 interceptions as well which really would’ve helped his chances at a roster spot. He is a smaller corner but his effort makes up for that. He showed very well on Thursday night and with Brandon Browner suspended the first 4 games of the season Butler could find his way onto the roster if this type of play keeps up.
· Tavon Wilson and Patrick Chung
o BB was pretty obvious in his attempt to give Harmon, Wilson and Chung all equal reps on Thursday and I think Wilson did the most with his. He was the most active out there making a lot of tackles looking pretty big but not slow. He didn’t make any glaring mental mistakes, which shows growth on his part. He looked pretty good in my opinion coming up and playing the run game. Chung didn’t rack up the same tackle number as Wilson but he still looked smooth out there. He didn’t impress me as much as Wilson, but he looked better than I thought he would for some reason. I am rooting for Wilson to win out in the safety competition and take the starting role but I also like Harmon a lot too and wouldn’t mind seeing him take it either. We also can’t rule out Jemea Thomas making a push in the coming weeks for the spot either. The competition at the second safety spot is the most interesting to me at this point in the season.
Overall the game wasn’t pretty for the Patriots, but there were the bright spots that I outlined above. The team heads back to Gillette to joint practice with the Eagles before their game on Friday night. Friday night should see more action from the starters and it should also answer more questions about position competition and who will stick on the roster.