Much of the Patriots preseason has been frustrating, to say the least.
0-3, with two truly pathetic efforts. There have been some notable individual performances, but none too significant.
So should we be worried, or is everything okay?
Lets start with the good. Patriots rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo has 18 total tackles in the three preseason games. He has clearly won a spot as starting linebacker, and has looked terrific at times. Look agile, strong, and has played with great intensity. Along the same lines, Patriots rookie outside linebacker Shawn Crable, has also looked great at times. He’s made a couple of sacks, and looks like a great edge linebacker who was the fluidity to be solid in coverage and the strength and poise to be efficient in run coverage.
Fellow Patriots rookie, quarterback Kevin O’Connell, has had his share of ups and downs. His two interceptions don’t look great (however, keep in mind that only one of them was his fault). However, he has shown potential looking accurate, mobile, and he’s shown the ability to throw the ball long. He has a very unique and intriguing skillset, and he will be interesting to watch in the coming years.
While there are many more good things to talk about, theres a lot more bad things.
Lets start with special teams. We haven’t gotten any big return. We’ve had two turnovers and have let up two touchdowns. The only bright spot has been the play of Matt Slater, who has really opened some eyes for his return game and his return coverage game. Overall, these mistakes have to be brought down.
Defense. Although there have been some strong individual performance, the defense as a whole hasn’t looked good. Too many mental lapses leading to big plays. The in-cuts and slants have been consistently killing us as offenses get consistent 10-20 yard gains. This area is a real need of improvement.
The offensive line is a total mess. There have been too many injuries to count, and the Patriots keep signing guys to try and fill the major voids… and it isn’t working. Most of Cassel’s “struggles” can be blamed on the so called “starting” offensive line. Could we be re-entering the Drew Bledsoe glory days?
Although it is in a big part to the offensive line, the total offensive production has been a drag. Lamont Jordan was productive in the first game, but hasn’t played since. Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris have been relatively innefective. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has shown some flashes, but has had really limited chances. Kevin Faulk has been a relative non-factor. Matt Cassel hasn’t made many big mistakes, but hasn’t been able to get the offense moving well. Chad Jackson has struggled (but boy did he make a beautiful catch against the Eagles).
Then there’s the Tom Brady “injury.” At first I didn’t take it seriously, but now I am. He needs to get on the field. I am of the belief that Brady needs some game experience to be ready for the season. We’ll see if he plays against the Giants, but either way, he needs to get himself on the field. Superstar or rookie, every player needs to have some game experience, so that rust can come off before the season starts.
Now… the list of issues I just presented could seem like a really bad thing. But lets keep this in mind: this is a preseason game and we are more likely to see Belichick tell us about how his weekend went than see him come up with an actual gameplan. Still, I’d really like to see a win, and if I could pick a game I’d like to see the Patriots win in the preseason, it would be the Giants.