September 22, 2014

Worry Wart – Preseason Game Two vs. Cincinnati

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
August 19, 2009

The Patriots look to build on last week’s positive showing at Philadelphia in Thursday night’s scrimmage vs. Cincinnati. Below, this week’s concerns…

Those Who Ignore The Passed Are Doomed: Though Carson Palmer won’t play, the Bengals still boast receivers Chad Ochocinco (still can’t believe that’s his legal name) and Chris “Five Strikes” Henry. Defensive backs Darius Butler and Leigh Bodden looked decent vs. the Eagles, but what happened with Terrence Wheatley? He seemed about as comfortable as a vegan at a pig roast.

Rushing Diplomat: Eagles starters held Laurence Maroney to 14 yards on six attempts. Sammy Morris did slightly better against backups (12 for 45, 3.75 avg.) A 3.3-yard team average won’t cut it vs. Cincy, who had the 21st-ranked rushing defense last year. The Patriots just signed Chris Taylor (the running back, not the wrestler) to take some reps – and some punishment.

Maroney has his doubters, but let’s make this deal: if he averages over 4.1 yards a carry Thursday, we all stop second-guessing him… At least until next week.

Play Something Catchy: Obscured by the flashes of rookie Julian Edelman’s performance, receivers Randy Moss and Joey Galloway did little to impress. Moss missed a couple passes, while Galloway ended up with zero receptions after a potential TD bounced off his hands. Special-teamer Ray Ventrone had better stats (one four-yard grab). Not. Good.

Hollowed Ground Defense: New England gave up 4.3 yards per carry last week, 5.5 to rookie LeSean McCoy. As they mix and match their defensive looks, they have to find the right groups of outside linebackers/defensive ends. Tully Banta-Cain (one sack) and Derrick Burgess can pressure the QB, but can they stop the run? Shawn Crable looked less than spectacular. Assumed starters Pierre Woods and Adalius Thomas combined for two total tackles, or as many as rookie lineman Myron Pryor. Who besides Thomas and Jerod Mayo can stay on the field for all three downs?

Another game, another chance. We’ll check up on Friday.

E-mail Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. ohcincoco sin’t sisk Bilekech’s rign’s heteir sternMON ROTTHEL IT!!!

  2. Box_O_Rocks says:

    Wheatley had a bit of rust to start, otherwise he played well. He was tested by one of the better reserve QBs in the NFL, and he went against some top talent when Reid kept his rookie receivers in for most the game – kids who are competitive for first team reps. Wheatley is behind from his injury and from how quickly Butler appears to be developing, but he’ll be welcome depth behind Wilhite and Bodden in the too near future of NE DB injuries.

    After one preseason game I haven’t figured out the philosophy of 4-man fronts:
    — the 3-4 funneled runners into the messy middle where two ILBs, two Ss, and backside pursuit could combine to limit yardage.
    — the 40 fronts funneling runners into the middle will have one less defender inside.
    — ?? Will a NE 40 be a containment defense, a disrupting defense, or a wall? (Obviously it was none of the above consistently in Philly.)

    Unsurprisingly, Crable looked like a ‘near’ rookie. People’s expectations for him entering this season were, as usual, well outside reasonable. Against Philly I saw a kid who had the playbook more firmly in his head, but he was still flipping mental pages for answers. The more playing time he gets as the preseason progresses, and the more time he can practice what he now knows but hasn’t drilled into his muscles, the better he’ll play. Should NE elect to use a 4-3 base this season, Crable is more likely to accelerate his improvement from his SLB experience at Michigan.

    I have more questions about Burgess after game one than I do the other OLB prospects. Happily, he was new to the team and not as likely to have a firm grasp of material he’ll know intimately by the time Buffalo rolls into Gillette.

  3. Chris Warner says:

    Good points as usual, Box. I was disappointed that, even with the injury, Wheatley had regressed a bit. Would have liked to see him back near the level he was 10 months ago.

    As for Crable, after reading Richard Seymour’s and others’ reviews of his quickness off the line, I was expecting we’d get to see him rush the QB, but – in fairness to him – that wasn’t his role in Philly. Burgess applied pressure and at least on one play mucked up the running lane off-tackle. I find myself asking the question again: who stays on the field for all three downs?

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