Ah football. How we’ve missed you. After months and months (and months) of offseason, Pats fans finally got their first televised look of the preseason at a sea of new faces and players who would normally never see the field. Is it truly indicative of what the regular season has in store for us? No. Absolutely not. Still, it’s something. So me and my dad (who requested I refer to only as Mr. Peters, but it’s my column so I’m calling him Pops) hunkered down with some beer to see what we had to look forward to. And what matchups! Belichick vs. Kelly! Brady vs. Vick! Tim Tebow vs. the World! Here’s five things that I took away from this game.
1. The No. 2 QB spot is pretty shaky
As it turns out, no matter how much you drink, Tim Tebow still sucks. I know he’s a great guy, a great teammate, a model Christian, and has tried really hard in practice and all. But yikes, when Tebow set foot on that field after Ryan Mallett got knocked out with a head injury, things looked pretty messy. His mechanics look off, his decision making needs work, and he gets consistently sacked. The Pats can’t count on him as a passer, and as good a runner as he is, opposing teams will be able to adjust immediately to him. Remember the movie Rookie of the Year?
Kid pitcher Henry Rowengartner (hilarious movie name) injures his arm and immediately becomes a superstar, playing for Gary Busey (post-kinda-crazy Busey, pre-super-crazy Busey) and the Chicago Cubs. Then in the final game, he reinjures it and loses his powers, and can only win the game with an underhand eephus pitch that completely fools the opposing hitter. My point is, Tim Tebow is Henry Rowengartner after the reinjury, except he’s been trying to keep it up for two seasons. You can only survive on moxie and the element of surprise for so long.
Now, this means that if Ryan Mallett’s injury has lingering effects, the Patriots have to go out and get another QB immediately. They can’t go through the preseason with Tebow on the field, let alone ever allow him to see the field come regular season. It’s not just the stats (4/12, 55 yds) but how he looked: wobbly throws, miscommunications, runs that went nowhere. I got about a dozen texts all saying the same thing “Tebow sucks.” Pretty sad, but the Pats knew this was a possibility. This is something to watch and fear. Oh the fear.
2. The rookie receivers look promising.
This was a nice surprise. Rookie Aaron Dobson showed off his promise, though he needs to do better than 2 catches on 8 targets, though he looks to be a potential downfield threat. Kenbrell Thompkins continues his run at the spot of Alex’s Favorite WR (previous winners: Jabar Gaffney, Jabar Gaffney, Mike Vrabel, Jabar Gaffney, and Rob Gronkowski) and although his stats aren’t that impressive (4 rec for 23 yds), he was dependable and was on the same wavelength as Brady in the early goings. Zach Sudfeld (who Pops called “Malik Sutcliffe” and “Max Somebody” in a span of 20 minutes. Here’s to the Malik Sutcliffe era!) had a nice catch but impressed the most as a blocker. Of course, as soon as Tebow took the field, production went down for the rookies, so next game may be a better exhibition of their talents.
3. The Patriots are stacked at running back.
Stevan “Van Riddles” Ridley opened the game on a beautiful 62-yard run followed by a touchdown. Shane Vereen still looks like the ideal Danny-Woodhead-role of change of pace back and elite receiving option, and took the Eagles’ linebackers to school. Brandon Bowden and Leon Washington looked fine. But LeGarette Blount, oh LeGarette Blount! 11 carries, 101 yards, 2 TD, and a fantastic 51-yard run that may have been the play of the game. After running into trouble on the initial run, Blount cut back, then cut back again, making his way to the end zone at a pace that can only be described as “trundling.” Pops on Blount: “He moves just like Paul Pierce. Wildly unathletic, looks like he’s in slow motion, but he’s deadly.” This can only be a good thing.
4. The pass defense is still iffy.
The less said about this the better. Yes, they were without Alfonzo Dennard and Devin McCourty, arguably the two best pieces in the secondary, and players like Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib left the field immediately, but the remaining players didn’t exactly instill confidence. The Eagles still came up with big passing play after big passing play, and were in the game all the way to the bitter end. Logan Ryan whiffed on a tackle, leading to a Greg Salas tackle. Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon looked lost at times. This is a young group, with plenty of potential, but if the Patriots hope to remain title contenders they need to get a bit more dependable.
5. Tom Brady
I hope Tim Tebow will forgive me, but Jesus Christ thank God for Tom Brady. As little as he played, he was still his usual sharp self, and led the Pats down the field for two scores, one a beautiful pass to Shane Vereen in the back corner of the end zone. On the night, he went 7/8 for 65 yards, the seven completions going to Amendola (quiet night), Thompkins, Dobson, and Vereen. Also as Pops pointed out “Hair looks good. High and tight. None of that Fabio crap that Gisele put him up to.” Thank you, Pops.
Next week, the Pats take on the Buccaneers in what should be a nice game. We’ll hopefully get more looks at the rookies (where have you gone Josh Boyce?) and Ryan Mallett will stay on the field longer meaning that Tim Tebow will be on the field less meaning I will be more sober.