December 5, 2016

Patriots Drop Second Straight

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

Ha! Just kidding.

In many respects, the Pats 16-15 loss to the Ravens in last night’s pre-season opener was nothing to look at, yet we could not avert our eyes. Here’s some quick thoughts.

  • Big story? Jerod Mayo. Hey, now! He made plays with the first team and even more plays with the second team. And here’s what I loved more than anything: the tackling. He squares up and drives through the ballcarrier, wrapping him up and driving him to the ground so there’s no misunderstanding. He looked every bit the player, even with the big kids, in his debut.
  • He wasn’t the only young linebacker to raise eyebrows. Standing in for Mike Vrabel, Pierre Woods brought consistent heat from the left edge. On the right was Shawn Crable, doing the same, but also grabbing his first pro pick on a very deep drop up the right hash (Ravens left). Is this actually happening? Do the Patriots actually have some young linebackers who won’t be anonymous? Too early to tell, I guess, but so far so good.
  • So far so bad was the story for the undermanned offensive line. Really awful, especially when the Ravens rushed more than four guys. The middle of the line was especially sieve-like. The Pats spent all night in second and third and long, and most of that could be attributed to missed assignments, lost matchups, and a steady stream of penalties. Good thing Tom Brady spent all night in that windbreaker and hat his mom bought for him.
  • The quarterbacks? Cassel did everything he could to relate to his offensive line – meaning he stunk too. Matt Gutierrez wasn’t any better, really – what’s with that backpedal screen pass out of bounds? On first down? Matt, have you and Cassel been studying together? Kevin O’Connell played better than the both of them put together, mostly with his legs. His best pass plays came when he improvised, which ain’t going to keep us warm when the cold winds blow. To be fair to them all, their go-to receiver last night was Ray Ventrone.
  • LaMont Jordan was probably the best offensive player for the Pats, scoring the team’s only touchdown with some tough, determined inside running at 4 yards a pop. And what of receiver Chad Jackson? Let’s just say his status is unchanged, even after getting the start.
  • The secondary gave up too many intermediate completions, some of which helped the Ravens get off to a 10-0 lead. Lewis Sanders had the best coverage of the night, breaking up a few sure completions with well-timed strips. Terrence Wheatley got plenty of snaps but Sanders was the best looking corner while working the slot.
  • Special teams helped hang the L on the scoreboard by giving up a long punt return (complete with missed tackles) and CJ Jones had maybe the worst kick returning game in NFL history. Savvy choice to grab that punt at the two and try to return it. Matt Slater took kickoffs and ran like hell to the 20, where he stopped so Baltimore could tackle him. Nothing to see here, other than Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals.
  • Oh, one more ST note: Sam Aiken went down with an undetermined injury. Was it the curse of Mel Mitchell, the last ST free agent to get hurt before he could even get started with the Pats?

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I have for now. Please consider adding your own impressions in our comments section. Our own Chris Warner will look at the tape again and be back on Monday with his thoughts on the Patriots’ first action of the 08 season.

Comments

  1. Great write up. I agree with everything you said.

    – Woods played like a man possessed. He had constant pressure on the QB and was involved in a ton of tackles. Even if he was out of the play at the beginning (if it was run to the other side, etc) you’d see him right there at the end of the play assisting on the tackle.

    – Mayo… wow. At some points in my mind I was actually rushing the Pats Offense off the field (which didn’t need much encouraging to do so) so I could get some extra Mayo (Ok, it’s early, I promise I won’t do that anymore).

    – Crable – I liked what I saw here too. This guy is huge. Much bigger than what I expected. I’d seen him in camp some and out of pads but on the field with all the other guys he still stands out.

    – CJ Jones – Not just a bad special teams game but just a bad game overall. O’Connell worked his way out of trouble in his own endzone, buys some time and finds Jones only to have him bobble it and cough it up into an INT.

    – Cassell is just terrible. He’s almost crossed the line into completely useless now. Gutierrez didn’t have a great game by any stretch of the immagination but I still then he was better than Cassell.

    – The O-Line:

  2. Nopointe says:

    It was great to see Mayo, Crable, and Woods making plays and being involved even away from the play.

    The pros still outweigh the cons with Gutierrez.
    Pro: bald, cheesy mustache, looks like he’s late 40’s with his helmet on
    Con: made the mistake of thinking Chad Jackson could make plays.

    I can’t really blame him on the con, he didn’t put Jackson out there.

  3. One players I noticed was rookie Gary Guyton. He didn’t get a ton of PT, but he did well to run Yamon Figurs down from behind on that punt return, and he looked as if he was applying some decent pressure with the third unit. I know his chances of making the roster are slim, but I feel confident in saying he had a better game than Victor Hobson.

  4. larry mollin says:

    it was fun to see the new guys. mayo was a force. lewis sanders seemed very strong in coverage. crabble looks like he has good, unique skills which will be helpful. woods got the fumble he didn’t get in the SB. chad jackson is just not going to get it. he is tentative and doesn’t go for the ball and aided an interception.

    wheatley gives too much cushion for my taste. he reminded me of ellis and not in a good way.

    slater was disappointing but game for anything. what is it with ray ventrone? why is he even out there?

    the backup QB’s were difficult to watch. none of them could step in for Brady and i suspect we will be picking up some vet soon.

    maroney didn’t look like he really wanted to play. lamont jordan is a load and that looked promising. faulk will be as good as ever.

    it looks like we will be upgraded by the new additions.

  5. I was particularly impressed with LaMont Jordan. If this offense (the one with Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and a competent O-line) is anything like what it was last year, a bruising running back that can take carry after carry and and put games away by wearing out the defense will be a tremendous asset. After Sammy Morris’ injury in Dallas, the Pats didn’t really have that last year. Jordan looks like the kind of solid back who can just keep punishing defenses. Good pick up.

    Two offensive players who were disappointing last night were Maroney and Chad Jackson. Kind of hard to judge Maroney because the O-line didn’t open any holes for him, but he didn’t do much to make something out of nothing so to speak.

    As for Jackson, he didn’t get many good opportunities either. The Ravens snuffed out every bubble screen they tried to run, and the other passes to him were uncatchable. But the most concerning thing is that the overriding criticism we’ve heard about him in camp – that he is often not on the same page as Brady in route reading/running – seemed to show up in a game when he didn’t break off his route which led to Cassel’s interception.

    Overall, much more promise shown by the young guys on defense than anyone on offense (Jordan excluded) in this game.

  6. Happy that a new season has started and thanks Brett for giving ESPN something else to talk about.

    Even acknowledging the make-shift O-line, it was sad that the WRs and Cassel had such a poor night. Especially sad for CJ Jones. Hang in there buddy!

    Good night for Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis (why does that name sound familiar….) and the Dline and linebackers who all showed up… except for one, Victor Hobson… did we hear his name even once?

    Crable seems like a cross between Vrable and Willie McGinest. Obviously an overstatement but you have to like what he was showing. He and Mayo definitely showed that they belong, and Woods looked good too. Even Alexander had some plays.

    Convenient that Baltimore didn’t even try to run so I guess we find out how Mayo holds the point against the run in the next couple of games.

    Awesome helmet-separating decapitation shot by Mayo on the raven’s running back.

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