With the Patriots 16-15 preseason loss to the Ravens in the books, its time to take a look back at the impact of the game. While there were some things that can be said, keep in mind that it is only the preseason, in fact just the first game, so there are still going to be a lot of changes, as well as a lot of more chances for players to prove themselves.
First, I’ll talk about the backup quarterbacking battle. With Tom Brady sitting out, all three backups were given a chance to prove themselves. Cassel, who made his third career preseason start, struggled mightily. He was missing his throws, had a couple of miscues, and just never looked comfortable under center. He finished 1/4 for 11 yards and an interception (which seemed to be more Chad Jackson’s fault than his). While a lot of people thought Matt Gutierrez really struggled, I thought he looked alright. Of course he had his ups and downs, including an interception that was a misread that was followed by a soft throw. However, he showed some good zip, accuracy, and an ability to anticipate the rush and throw on the run. Kevin O’Connell also had his ups and downs, but looked more up than down to me. He showed a quick release, an ability to throw the ball deep, tuck in the ball and run, all while showing good poise and accuracy in the pocket. He will be a solid NFL quarterback.
Next, I wanted to talk about some of young linebackers, specifically the play of Jerod Mayo, Shawn Crable, and Pierre Woods. Crable and Woods dominated the outside, both wreaking havoc on the quarterback, all while diagnosing run plays well. Crable even added a sweet interception. Jerod Mayo also looked fantastic. He showed quick feet, hard hitting ability, as well as a good knowledge of the defense. However, I think this video sums up Mayo’s night:
A few more thoughts:
- I might have been wrong about Ray Ventrone. He made a few catches, including that one great sideline catch. As much as he struggled making the transition to receiver in mini-camp, he has really turned the corner.
- C.J. Jones might as well buy himself a bus ticket to leave Foxborough. He made a horrible fielding decision on a return, fumbled a punt, and dropped a pass on 4th down that caused a Kevin O’Connell interception.
- Chad Jackson really struggled in game 1. He looked lost on the field, missed some assignments, didn’t make a catch. Not a good 1st impression.
- Rookie tight end Jonathan Stupar really caught my eye. He looked big, athletic, and showed solid solid hands en route to a two catch, 17 yard performance.
- Was Victor Hobson in the game?
- Strong play from Brandon Meriweather at safety.
- Patriots rookie cornerback Terrence Wheatley looked solid. He got the start and put together four tackles.
- The Patriots’ offensive line situation is a mess. Period.
- Vince Redd made a nice pass rush -> deflection in the second half that really caught my eye. Fellow rookie free agent Gary Guyton also had some solid play.
- Tank Williams… major loss (more to come on that).
- Feranando Bryant looked really good. I wonder if he and Wheatley will actually end up being the starting corners, even when Hobbs comes back.
- Billy Yates struggled a bit at the right guard spot.
- Although BenJarvus Green-Ellis only got one carry, he looked really quick and powerful on it, showing great acceleration. I’d really like to see more from him.
- Gostkowski went 3/3… good start from him. Chris Hanson struggled a bit.
Offensive Player of the Game: Lamont Jordan, #32
Jordan really looked good out there. He proved he was in good condition, carrying the ball 19 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. He’s the best north-south runner we’ve had in a long time, and he reminds me a bit of Antowain Smith with his ability to take on tacklers, catch the ball, and surprise you with agility.
Defensive Player of the Game: Shawn Crable, #98
Crable finished with 4 total tackles (3 solo), as well as a sack, and an interception. He put constant pressure on the Ravens’ quarterbacks. He also showed a strong tackling ability, and good coverage skills. I just keep thinking about a future linebacking core that includes Crable, Mayo, and Woods… and how good that would be.
Overall, it’s just good to have a game in the books. I would have liked for us to win, but that wasn’t really the point. The point is to give the young guys a shot, and just see what happens. There wasn’t much of a gameplan, the defense didn’t even use a blitz, its all about getting in playing shape, and earning a roster spot.