The New England Patriots were pretty impressive in beating the Carolina Panthers 30-7 Friday night, weren’t they?
So here’s some quick thoughts on what went down at Gillette Stadium:
- Bill Belichick is always, always trying to prepare his players for any situation. So on the Patriots third offensive series of the game, with 5:33 left in the first quarter, he sent Ryan Mallett in at quarterback instead of Tom Brady.
That had everyone scurrying for a couple of minutes to see if Brady – who tripped on the previous series while trying to turn around and make a hand-off and was hit pretty hard – was hurt.
He wasn’t. Belichick just wanted Mallett to get ready quickly, just as he would if something had really happened to Brady.
“It’s a situation that the quarterback could be in,” said Belichick. “That’s our opportunity to do it, so we did it.”
That one series, by the way, was Mallett’s only series of the game.
- No matter what happens in the next eight days – when NFL teams have to cut down to 53 players – former UMaine wide receiver Derrick Johnson will always have this game.
He caught two passes from fellow rookie Jimmy Garoppolo for 39 yards, including a nifty 31-yarder down the left sideline.
Those were his first two catches of the preseason. Johnson is a long-shot to make the 53-man roster, but he could stick with the practice squad – if not New England’s then somewhere else – especially since it’s been expanded to 10 players this year instead of eight,.
- Julian Edelman is so important to this offense. The former quarterback at Kent State has great hands, swivel-hips and great vision. That makes for a dangerous combination when he has the ball. Nine catches, 99 yards.
And before you ask why is he returning punts, just look at what he did Friday: 2 returns for 51 yards.
Get him the ball!
- Chandler Jones had two sacks, Rob Ninkovich had one and Cam Newton often had to hold the ball for much longer than he wanted to. Why? The secondary.
The Patriots covered the Panthers receivers pretty well, leading to the sacks and pressure. If the secondary continues to play like this, the defense will pile up a lot of sacks.
And speaking of the secondary, it looks like old friend Patrick Chung took a step toward sticking with the team. He was the starting safety and contributed three tackles. He was used mostly in running situations – stopping the run has always been his strength – with Duron Harmon coming in on passing situations.
- Tom Brady’s pretty good, eh?
He was only 17-of-21 for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Need I say anything else?
- The competition for the center position is still unsettled. Ryan Wendell started this game but both he and Dan Connolly played a lot. At one point, they were both in the game with Connolly lining up at his normal position, left guard.
- Stephen Gostkowski’s 60-yard field goal was pretty impressive. That would have been the longest in team history if the game counted. Adam Vinatieri hasthe team record: a 57-yarder in 2002 in a game against Chicago in Champaign, Illinois. Gostkowski’s longest in a regular season game is a 54-yarder that he boomed last year on Oct. 13 against New Orleans.
That’s it folks. Time to head north.