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Patriots Preseason

Pats Vs Giants

 

Pats Preseason Blog.

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

First off I just want to thank all the fans of this site. I have been promoting my books for sale primarily on this site. As a result, I have sold almost 500 books in the past year. Thank you for your support and patronage, both are greatly appreciated. I cannot tell you how happy it made me when I read that report. So thank you Draft fans and Patriot fans alike, and mostly thank you to all the fans of my books and website worldwide.

7-Things For Thursday Night: Giants.

By TOM

1. The RBs- 1st and 10, the Pats lined up in an I. They run what looked like a Sweep. But the Blindside edge got swarmed over by defenders. It was like a wave of white, black, light blue. The play was over before it started. ButÖ

Gaffney made a great cut back, which was his thing at Stanford. "I knew I was bigger [for an RB]." Gaffney said. "But I didnít want to consider myself just a power back. I wanted to be an athletic-bigger back. I know Iím not Dion Lewis- Reggie Bush type deals. And I know Iím not Jerome Bettis. You find out who you are, and stay with who you are. And thatís the best player youíll be." He was a great cut back runner with his great feet and agility.

He made Kuechly miss so badly he fell down. And Lotulelei overran the play as well. Then he fell down trying to stop the cutback. "When you talk about Tyler the word that comes up is tough," his old OC at Stanford Mike Bloomgren said. "[Tyler's] a tough-tough guy. He is a throwback football player. Physical as heck, runs with more speed than you ever think. But a tough physical player." He smashed into a linebacker and DE, after the 5-yards he created with his great cutback vision.

He looked like he was ready to not just help, but fight for a starting role until Lewis is back. "The entire training staff top to bottom did a great job helping me emotionally [and] physically," Gaffney said. "They got me ready and I canít thank them enough. Jerod Mayo, Rob Gronkowski, I think they were both in the training room at the time I was hurt. It was easy to kind of lean on them and basically everything they said to me, I soaked in." He has a lot more speed and quickness than Blount, and a lot more power than White.

He has been doing this all Preseason. "I have [had a ton of adversity]," Gaffney said. "It has been a long time coming. Itís been two years. Two years of rehab that Iíve been here. I feel like Iíve lived here for the past two years with rehab every day, meetings, watching the guys. I think thatís helped myself grow and come along two years later." He has gotten more yards from scrimmage that the O-line didn't block for this Preseason than any of the other RBs.

He missed his first NFL season. He took two years to rehab his way back onto the field. "Yeah you bet," BB said. "Tyler, of course, we knew two years ago in the 2014 season that he wouldnít play that year. Last year, unfortunately, he didnít get very far into training camp again, but nobody worked harder than Tyler. Heís there early, he stays late, never complains, always does extra, and so itís great to see him have an opportunity this year. He has had a good year all spring and in training camp and has done a good job for us, and then got a chance to play tonight and had some positive plays tonight. Yeah, happy for him, happy that heís out there and got through the game and can just keep building on tonightís performance." Now he is running like he did at Stanford.

He spent two years working his way off of IR to get his chance this Preseason. "Patience," Gaffney said about what he learned. "It just humbles you in life. The thing you love the most and you came out here as an aspiring rookie and you get that taken away and then you finally rehab and come back and get that taken away again. Itís a long time coming. Itís been 730 days or something. Whatever itís been, more than two years, but these guys have been by my side and cheering me on as much as you can for an IR guy, but I felt welcomed back as soon as I was ready to go again." I think he is currently the best runner on the active roster.

2. D-Line And Interceptions- Great defense by the front four to help create McCourty's interception . "I thought they competed hard," BB said. "It's a tough group to play against. They have big receivers. They have a big quarterback. They run the ball well. They are physical up front, but I thought we competed very well. Obviously we didn't finish the game very well, defensively but we played pretty tough for three quarters." When you consider that their two projected starters at D-end (Sheard and Ninkovich) have been out, the D-line has been playing above and beyond expectations.

The Pats defensive front seven dominated the Panthers game, which is giving turnover opportunities to the secondary. "We just keep working hard and continue to get after the quarterback," Flowers said. "We know that in order to be a good defense up front, we have to continue to come out here and try to do the best that we can." The Pats back seven is taking advantage of every opportunity they create.

Chris Long has been struggling to hit the QB, but he has been getting some pressure and excelling at everything else they need their edgerushers to do. "I honestly don't think big picture like that," Long said.. "I just try to show up every day and figure out what it is that I need to do to contribute to this team. I think being a team player, if I'm learning from my teammates around here, is to put the team first and focus on your job. If that's what it is, it is." Long has been playing strong against the run, stunting inside, and not just dropping into coverage, but making plays in coverage.

They created so much trouble for Newton. "He's big, athletic, strong and hard to get down," Flowers said. "So you think your task is done when you defeat the offensive blocker, but you've still got the job of sacking Cam Newton. So we just had to keep on going after him and hope we got him." Flowers did get him down once, from the outside, not the inside.

"Itís a different type of matchup," BB said. }Generally, when an end works against a tackle itís pretty much just those two guys. Sometimes a back or a tight end might chip him but for the most part itís pretty much truly a one-on-one situation from a wider alignment with rush-lane responsibilities on the edge. Inside thereís a third guy involved somewhere between the center and the guards against usually two rushers, unless you blitz but letís just say you donít, if you rush four then itís some version of three-on-two in there, so youíre dealing with another guy that youíre just not dealing with outside. The guards are generally have a little less length and a little less athleticism than the tackles but you also have a little less space in there. Seeing the way the protection slides, which way the center goes, whether youíre rushing on the guard or rushing on the center. As a defensive end youíre really not that worried about which way the slide is going because that doesnít affect you too much. It might affect you from the inside to make an inside move on the tackle. The guard might be there, but again, Iíd say overall thatís less of an issue than when youíre playing inside, so there are some scheme things, thereís a little matchup difference. Itís different for the guards to see those guys inside like that, too, that usually have more length, more speed, more quickness, less power generally."

They have to continue their fierce rush against Eli, and then bring it next week against Carson. "Turnovers, definitely early in the game, are infectious. What we pride ourselves on, getting a bunch of them," Logan Ryan said. "We were in a great call. I know that Jamie and a couple guys had a great pass rush. He was able to throw the ball and leave it a little short. So I had a chance at it." The rush and the coverage always work hand in hand to stop the offense.

Carson Palmer is a big strong QB like Newton, and if you don't bring him down he will kill you. "Yeah, so we're talking about 16 days [from the Carolina game to the regular season opener], so that's a factor," BB said. "From Friday to the following Sunday [September 11th], it's 16 days. We have to take that into consideration, too. Again, whether that overrides something or it doesn't, we'll just have to see, but yeah, it's definitely a consideration." He is even more of a veteran QB than Newton.

3. Jimmy-G QB Depth- Both Brady and Jimmy-G should play in the 1st half as both still need work. "Iím going out there with the mindset, 'Iím the starter,'" Garoppolo said. "Itís a great opportunity to get these first four games. Weíll see where it goes from there. You never know whatís going to happen. Itís a crazy league, and anythingís possible, really." If you think otherwise than you are a fool.

Brady cannot take a snap under center for four weeks after this game. "I donít really think thatís their job, and I donít think any player has enough time to do that, because they all have things that they need to do to prepare for the season," BB said. "But as far as being a good example and doing things right and all of that, we have a lot of guys that fall into that category, and thatís definitely a good thing. But thatís what they should be doing." And Garoppolo still needs all the reps in anger that he can get.

4. Creívon LeBlanc- Creívon LeBlanc has that knack for playing the ball in the air "Well, it's a valuable skill," BB said. "That's a good question. Logan Ryan is another guy that did it in college. He has done it here. Some guys have a real knack for that, other guys not as much. Sometimes it's a little bit [of an] acquired [taste]. Sometimes it's just instinctive." He can find the ball in the air, and go and get it.

He is an NFL player that the Pat are unlikely to be able to keep on the roster. "The best example I ever had was Everson Walls," BB said about that knack. "He didn't technically do hardly anything right from a fundamental standpoint. You would never take another player and say ĎLook, do it the way Everson's doing it. This is the way you would want to do it,' but in the end [he had], I don't know, whatever it was 56 career interceptions. It was a lot, it was over 50. He did things [badly], but he could find the ball and he had a great instinct for quarterbacks, routes, pattern combinations and so forth, so certainly it wasn't a speed and measurable thing. You would have released him on those measurables. That's why he wasn't drafted, but as a football player he's productive." He reminds me of Asante Samuel.

His instincts for finding the ball in the air is top notch. "When I was in Detroit, Lem Barney, [was doing] same kind of thing," BB said. "Len probably had better measurable skills coming out but at that point. He made a lot of plays and he made them on his: instinctiveness, ball skills, awareness, etc. Ty, I mean Ty was a first round pick, but Ty had that too. There are a lot of first round picks that don't have that and he had that. It's definitely an important skill and it really probably separates good from great players, or average to good players. It's not the easiest thing to evaluate and sometimes some of those plays are circumstantial more than they are great instinctive plays. They're fortunate the way they happen, but when a guy starts making enough of them then you know it's something a little special. It's tough to evaluate." They will try to sneak him onto the Practice squad.

5. One CB who will definitely make the team- For all you haters out there. Logan Ryan was terrific in this game. "Like I said for all the players, it's probably pretty similar, confidence," BB said. "I thought we did a lot of good things as a team, made a lot of good individual plays. There were some plays where we didn't do as well. Again, they're a very good team so any time you play a team like that it's never going to go perfect. You're going to have to work for everything you get. They're going to make some [plays] and you're going to make some [plays], but I thought our guys really tried to compete last night and we had a lot to show for it." He played with great technique and feet.

He was physical, quick, and aggressive in coverage the whole 1st Half. "Not perfect, there are a lot of things we still need to work on and that goes for every individual player," BB said. "Whichever one you ask about, there are things that every player needs to work on and every coach needs to work on at this point. Our objective is to identify those, understand what needs to be done differently by the individual, or by a group of individuals, and how they're handling a particular situation or a particular look, build on it, and just keep getting better. Really, we're all in that same boat." He was the best Corner on the field in the 1st half.

I though Cyrus Jones was in competition with Ryan to start, but Ryan put that challenge to bed in this game. "Itís a position thatís always pressured," Ryan said. "You donít want to make the wrong step. A lot can go wrong, a lot can go right, as well, so itís just a pressure position. Itís the NFL, so itís a competitive league. Itís not going to be perfect, but you just want to finish with more points than they have." He was so dominate that on the first pass he gave up, the refs called pass interference on Benjamin to make it 1st and 20.

Ryan used his inside hand on the jam, and Benjamin grabbed his arm and shoved him off to break outside on the Out pattern. It may have been a bit of a chintzy call, but Ryan had perfect technique on the Jam, and wasn't letting Benjamin get into his patterns.

That essentially ended the Panthers third drive before it started. "[WRs] are going to catch balls," Butler said. "It doesnít matter who you are. Youíre going to get a ball caught on you. But you try your best to limit them and not give up a catch almost every play. Some of those games come, but like I said before, I thought I played well, held them off long enough and got the ĎW.í Thatís all that matters." I thought Cyrus was surprisingly good in coverage the first two games, but Ryan was head and shoulders above Jones in Coverage.

Then he officially ended the drive two plays later. "Heís a guy who wants the ball," Ryan said. "Good or bad play, he wants to ball again like any great competitor would. So I knew to keep bringing it because after the first quarter, after the second quarter, heís going to keep wanting the ball. Heís going to demand the ball, and theyíre going to find a way to get that guy the ball." He had a great INT, and made the play of the game.

He was lined up outside on Benjamin this time on the Blindside. He doesn't get a jam in this time, but hopped back and turned facing Benjamin as he broke outside. Benjamin got the sideline, but Ryan was on him like a squirrel on an acorn. Newton threw it as Benjamin angled inside a little. But Ryan, whose elite technique, had inside position with his inside arm on Benjamin's outside arm. The throw was a hair low. All Ryan had to do was leap up and snag the ball. The interception was a result of Ryan's great: smarts, position, and technique, and all he had to do was hold on.

I though Cyrus Jones had a chance to beat him. Boy was I wrong. Ryan's coverage was great in this game against all the big strong wide receivers. He was great against the run as usually. Plus, he got his hands on the ball.

6. Martavius Mingo- Mingo has no idea what he is doing in the rush, and never did. "I think he'll help our team," BB said. "We'll spend some time and try to get him to go next week against the Giants. I'm glad we have him. I think he'll be a good addition, so we'll see how it all turns out. I don't know exactly how that's going to go. He has some position flexibility as well. He's played a number of different spots on all four downs so we'll see how comfortable he is doing different things and where we need him and so forth and play him some next week." Is was a pure combine numbers Draft pick, with undrafted rookie free agent production numbers at LSU.

He has been just as productive in Cleveland as he was at LSU. "He's a versatile player," BB said. "He has got a lot of skills. We'll see how it all plays out. I don't know. He has rushed, he has dropped, he has played on the line, he has played off the line, he has played in all phases of the kicking game, so we'll see." When you are cast onto the KP list in Cleveland (Kan't Play), than it is time for new profession.

He had 7 sacks in four year and 46 games for Cleveland, which is about what he did at LSU. "Itís a huge culture shock," Mingo said. "I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with those new coaches, but itís definitely been established here for a long time, and Iím excited to be a part of it." He has always been an elite physical specimen.

But he has no passrushing instincts or smarts. " I don't know, but he has got a lot of catching up to do," BB said. "We'll spend, and we already have spent a lot of time with it. He has worked hard. He has put in a lot of extra hours already in the brief time that he has been here to try and absorb all of the information that we give him, so we'll see how it goes." I wrote about Grissom's lack of instincts, and Mingo's are worse. He carried his complete lack of instincts to Cleveland.

He was teammates with Anthony Johnson at LSU, and Sheard in Cleveland. "Jabaal was there my first year, and he carried me along in that long, long year," Mingo said. "But to have him again is a huge relief." At least he learned how to play special teams there. He had more special teams tackles than sacks last season.

To me, they didn't give up much, but it was a wasted pick on a special teams guy. " I don't know, but he has got a lot of catching up to do," BB said. "We'll spend, and we already have spent a lot of time with it. He has worked hard, he has put in a lot of extra hours already in the brief time that he has been here to try and absorb all of the information that we give him, so we'll see how it goes." About the only thing to watch in this game tonight is that they are going to have to force Mingo onto the field.

I can't wait to see what he does (or rather doesn't do). "Well, I think the NFL is a lot more important," BB said. "It's a lot better of an evaluation. You see him against what we see." The good news is that he will be getting better coaching, and just has to find a role as a speed rusher off the corner. That's it. Nothing fancy. Nothing special.

Just run straight towards the QB and see if you can cause a problem, because there is not room at the Inn for you here. "Itís very exciting," Mingo said. "This team is stacked at every position. They have guys on the outside who can cover. Weíve got interior guys who are holding gaps and linebackers that are hitting those gaps and making big plays. Iím just excited to be a part of it." He is not a part of it yet.

Maybe the only thing that we really learned about the Pats from this trade is that it doesn't look good for the return of Sheard, and more importantly Ninkovich and McClellin. If there is any role the Mingo might be able to do, it is as an off the ball OLB that both Ninkovich and McClellin play. If those three guys are out, they are going to need some guys who can get to the QB in one fashion or another.

They really need six guys who can rush the passer. "Yeah, well I think really the key number is six [rushers], not five," BB said. "If itís five, they can identify who youíre five are then theyíre going to be five-on five. Thatís what we see. If there is six, then thereís I would say, on paper anyways, a potential mismatch of a back or a tight end on one of those guys; a defensive end, or Hightower, or Collins, or linebackers but you could call them ends if you wanted to. So, I would say those are where the mismatches are and then, if so, it could be any number of things where we could locate them. If thereís only five guys, if the team has one good blitzing linebacker and four down lineman then what we would do, what most teams would do, try to do probably, is just us five have those five and sort it out from there and get the other protector, usually the back, the sixth guy." Mingo might be that one guy.

He has the speed to go into the role that McClellin played in the first Preseason game. Set the edge and get up field. He doesnít have to turn the corner, but just has to get one of the O-tackles behind the QB to open a lane for one of the other six rushers. One thing he was good at doing at LSU was playing the run. So look for him to be dropping in coverage, playing the run on the edge, and imitating what Shea did in the first preseason game. Oh, and play like a demon on special teams to try and impress the special teams coach.

7. 4th Preseason game- Who gives a crap?

 

2nd Quarter: Pats Offense.

By TOM

The Pats get the ball back after McCourty's INT. 1st and 10, with Brady still in. The Pats lined up in a 3-Wide Singleback. He handed it to Gaffney on a Smash. The blocking was excellent. Gaffney just ran straight ahead for a 1st down. But then he put his hand on the ground to hold himself up, and somehow stumbled forward for six or seven more yards.

Solder sealed the DE outside. Thuney let the DT blast past him, and he was sealed inside by Harbor. This allowed Thuney to take out the ILB, and Andrews to seal the Sam coming over to get Gaffney. Gaffney went straight up field, and wasn't touched until he slashed behind Hogan and Keshawn Martin blocking on the magic yellow line.

1st and 10, the Pats lined up in an I. They run what looked like an off tackle run, but the Blindside edge got swarmed over by defenders. Gaffney made an elite cutback that made two defenders in the backfield fall down. He got five yards, when he should have gotten negative-five. That was a truly great run. I think he should be the starting RB come Week One (but he won't be).

Then Solder started falsely to make it 2nd and 10, which made the Pats come out Empty. Brady stood in the face of the rush, and lofted a perfect pass to Hogan for a TD. Hogan was lined up in the Slot. He got an outside release. Brady threw a perfect pass over his outside shoulder. You simply can't throw it any better than that. 

"Carolina doesn't play a lot of single coverage, single-high coverage," BB said. "They do it a few times a game. They play a little quarters coverage a few times a game, so when you get those opportunities, we talk about trying to go up on them. We did a couple times, and that's one we hit. It was good to see us take advantage and convert that. We hit one last year to Aaron Dobson. It was on the outside, but a similar kind of play. When they give you that kind of opportunity, and you don't get many of them against these guys, then you have to make them count. It was a good throw, good catch."

People forget that Logan is a big guy, and not a little slot guy like Edelman and Amendola. "He works hard," BB said about Hogan. "He's tough and he's smart. He's moldable, good position player. He has position flexibility, inside and outside, as our other receivers do so we can move guys around a little bit in the blocking and running game. He can play in the kicking game. We haven't used him there but he's done that so he gives us some versatility." The Panthers certainly forgot, and he burned them.

The Pats lined up in a 4-Wide Strong shotgun to go for the 2-point conversion. Brady had Derby breaking outside wide open. But he went over the middle to Dopson. He was in the Slot. He ran an In to the back of the Endzone. He was open and Brady threw it high and behind him. He was lucky to reach up and get two fingernails scrapping on the ball. That bad throw was a great example of how stupid all the pundits are who made up the controversy that Brady doesn't need work in the Preseason to get ready for October.

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1st and 10, Brady lined them up in a 3-TE Singleback. Develin went in motion to the right, as Brady handed the ball to Blount on a Dive. He ran straight up the middle. Thuney helped one DT outside, and Andrews Sealed the other DT inside. Develin cracked back into the DE, and Blount slashed behind him. He put on the jets, hurdled a safety, and ran for 17.

1st and 10, the Pats lined up in a twins-twins I. Brady ran play action to Blount. He dropped back with a big clean pocket. He has time, and lofted a pass with too much thought and touch. It sailed high over Bennett's head and out of bounds. Another example of a bad throw to a wide open guy that showed how much work Brady really needed.

2nd and 10, the Pats lined up in a 4-Wide Singleback. Brady 3-stepped and threw in rhythm to Edelman outside. He got crushed by Bradberry but held on. 3rd and 4, Brady went into a 4-Wide Weak shotgun. Brady hit Derby twisting at the marker. He dropped it to force the punt. He was so great coming into this game, and looked like Zach Sudfeld on that pass.

The pass was a little outside, but he has to catch that every time. "I think that's been a good competitive position for us," BB said about the TE-position. "[We've] more depth than we've had there in quite a while, both in terms of blocking and receiving, also in the kicking game. We have some players there that have shown up positively on special teams. So the overall competition and contributions from that position have been good all through camp and in the preseason, so we'll see how all that plays out but I think we're fortunate to have the group of players that we have there, and they've all worked hard, they've all competed well, they've taken a lot of snaps, and they've all gotten better." Harbor is on the rise, and Derby seemed to fall apart in this game.

Then Gostkowski missed another field goal. The snap was outside, but it looked like Allen got it down. Pats should have been-12.

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1st and 10 after the Harmon's interception. Brady lined them up in a twins-twins Strong shotgun. Derby stayed in to block. He washed the blitzing safety past Brady. The D-line slanted to the strongside on the rush. The blockers did a great job protecting Brady. Bennett crossed in front of Brady wide open. He fired it quickly, but the big NT/DT Short leaped up and knocked the ball down.

2nd and 10, Pats went Empty. Panthers showed blitz, bringing two linebackers up next to Andrews. They brought three and dropped three. The O-line blocked well, but Brady had to step up into the pocket. Bennett was wide open over the zone. Brady tried to blast it through the zone instead of over the two DBs in front of Bennett. He under threw it so bad that it was almost intercepted.

It is just so obvious that he still needs a lot of work this preseason. "It's always up to Coach Belichick, but I mean I love playing," Brady said. "I love playing in practice, I love playing preseason games, regular-season games, postseason games, I love thinking about football. It's just the way it is. That part, I think will be very challenging watching those games in September, but I'll find ways to preoccupy my mind." Bennett was wide open over the top, and he threw it 10 yards short.

3rd and 10, the Pats lined up in a 4-Wide Weak shotgun. Brady ran a little play action, and Solder got beat to his outside shoulder. Karras got beat on a switch, as the strongside DE and DT Stunted. He was late picking up the DT crossing his face. Solder's D-end flushed Brady and sent him right into Karras' D-end to force the punt.

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1st and 10, Garoppolo lined up them up in a 4-Wide Strong Shotgun. He handed the ball underneath to White. He slashed between blocks by Andrews and Thuney, as the two DTs blasted off up field to rush. It looked like he had some room to run, but Cannon missed the block on Kuechly. Kuechly grabbed White a few yards past the LOS. Davis shook off a Derby block, and got to White as Kuechly was dragging him down.

2nd and 7, after the Two-Minute warning the Pats went Empty. Garoppolo tried to go over the top to Hogan, but the pass was 10 to 15 yards off. That was a terrible throw.

3rd and 7, Pat lined up in a 4-Wide Weak shotgun. Garoppolo got blitzed by two guys, and Panthers brought five. Daryl Worley went untouched at Garoppolo. He faked a throw a little, and the DB leaped up and flew right into him. He did a great job twisting out of the Sack. He eluded the D-end on the edge. But he didn't see Davis giving chase behind him. Davis caught up with him and punched the ball out. The ball was recovered by White to force the punt.

 

2nd Quarter: Pats Defense.

By TOM

The Pats defense came out to start the 2nd quarter with :23 second left in the 1st quarter. The Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel with five guys up in the line. Kuhn was in at NT. He held up the OC, and then shoved him aside when Payne cut to the Strongside. Brown was playing 5-tech next to him. He split the double team of the ORG and ORT. He fell down and grabbed the RB's feet, to trip him into Kuhn.

2nd and 8, with the Panther staying in their shotgun offense, the Pats matched up in their 3-3 Nickel with Long standing up at the end of the line. They handed if off inside again. Cyrus Jones blitzed from the slot. He chased Payne into the hole. Payne went straight up field and hopped to the left a little. Flowers fought off the OLT and got in front of Payne Five yards down field, and Hightower slammed him to the ground from the side.

3rd and 3, Panthers went into a 4-Wide shotgun. The Pats match up in the 3-3 Nickel. The Pats rushed the three D-linemen, but they don't get far. Collins blitzed up the gut and looked like he was going to get Newton, but Payne stepped up and cracked him as Newton threw. Collins knocked the RB back into Newton, just after the ball left his hands. He threw it high to Benjamin. He caught it in front of Ryan.

1st and 10, Panther in a 3-Wide Shotgun. The Pats stayed in their 3-3 Nickel. They ran to the strong side. Long set the edge, and the RB cut inside of him. Brown got sealed but the ORT, and both OGs pulled through that crack. Chung got wiped out by one guard. Payne ran into the ORG. and Hightower and Flowers jumped him again.

2nd and 4, Panthers put a Bunch on the blindside. The Pats matched up in a 3-4, with Elandon Roberts and Collins at ILB, and Hightower and Long at OLB. The rush was slow again. Long got up field and even with Newton and shed the ORT. But Newton threw right as Long got a lane and he couldn't touch him. He hit Payne streaking outside. He threw it a little behind him, which allowed him to spin back to catch it, which cut him back away from Collins. He ran around Roberts. Hightower was there again. Butler went high and helped Hightower get him down.

1st and 10, the Panthers stayed shotgun, and the Pats went back to the 3-3 Nickel, which really was their base defense last year. Hightower and Long stood up on the edges. They brought Payne up the middle again. He had to bounce it outside as Brown clogged it up inside. Butler held up the CB outside to protect the sideline. As Payne cut inside, Long jumped him from behind. But he fell down grabbing his leg. Brown hustled over and went high. Holding was called on the tight end blocking Long was called. Long shrugged him off at the point and he held onto the front of his shirt, which gave Long an awkward shake. Upon further review, he did have his hands a little outside the shoulder pads.

1st and 20, Panthers go Empty. The Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel, with Hightower on the tight end and Collins following the RB out of the backfield. Long stayed standing up, and Flowers moved in front of the OLT. The Pats bring three. Johnson got doubled by the ORG and the ORT. But he got his hand up into Newton's face as he threw. Brown powered the OC back, and got his hand up in Newton's face as well. Flowers got doubled by the OLG and OLT, and swooped in behind Brown on a Swim move inside.

Long retreated back in coverage, and flowed to his right following Newton's eyes. He leaped up and tipped the pass with both hand. Which sent it flying over Funchess. The ball lofted ever so softly into McCourty's waiting hands. 

"He was in coverage," BB said. "There were a lot of guys in coverage on that play, probably about six guys and the ball still went there. He got his hand on it and got it up to somebody who could run with it. It was a good move. Devin got a good return and Duron got a return on his ball. So it's not [just] two big turnovers, but we gained some field position after we got the ball."

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1st and 10 after Hogan's touchdown. The Pats matched up in a 4-3 with Hightower standing up outside. They gave to Payne again. But Long jammed the ORT back. He continued to power him back as Newton handed the ball to Payne. Long bulled the ORT back so far that he tripped Payne with his back foot. Brown shoved off the ORG and dived onto top of him.

2nd and 10, the Panthers shifted into a 3-Wide Weak shotgun. The Pats matched up in their 3-3 Nickel, with Long standing up on the Strongside, and Hightower and Collins in at ILB. Flowers got a good blast off and pushed the OLT's feet into Newton's feet as he threw. Long got up field fast as well. Johnson was doubled inside, and he almost jammed through the double to get a hand up in Newton's face. Newton overthrew Ginn, who was being very well covered by LeBlanc.

3rd and 10, and the Pats spread it out in their 3-3 Nickel a little with the Panthers going Empty. The O-line won that round and gave Newton enough time to find Payne sneaking out of the backfield. But Collins was in coverage and took him down quick to force the punt.

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1st and 10, the Panthers stayed in the shotgun. Newton is out, and the Pats matched up in their new favorite defense: the 3-3 Nickel. They put Hightower and Long in at OLB on the line. It looked like a run, as the TE motioned into the backfield in front of Payne. Anderson ran a play action. The rush wasn't great. But they only rushed three as Hightower and Long dropped into coverage. Anderson threw a rocket to Funchess for a First.

1st and 10, the Panthers went into a hurry up offense. The Pats matched up in a 3-Wide Weak shotgun. Pats stayed in the 3-3 Nickel. Anderson threw quickly to Funchess. He lined up outside, and broke inside on Leblanc for 9. 2nd and 1, Pats lined up in a 4-2 Nickel, but it is the same personnel. The Panther went 3-Wide Singleback, and the ORG started falsely.

2nd and 6, Anderson went back into the shotgun, and the Pats matched up in the 3-3 Nickel. The Pats brought five, and the O-line held up. Anderson zinged another pass in rhythm to Funchess, who was beating up on Craven.

1st and 10, the Panthers went Empty. The Pats matched up in the 3-3 Nickell, with Hightower and Collins at ILB. Anderson tried to go to Funchess again. Leblanc leaped up in front of him and almost intercepted the ball. That was a great play by Leblanc. He gave a great jam at the line, which slowed the timing a little. Funchess took an outside release, and Leblanc followed, turned, and looked back at the QB. The pass was high, and he was just able to get his hands on it.

2nd and 10, Panthers went into a 2-TE I. Pats matched up in their 3-3, with Hightower and Freeny lined up outside. They ran a dive. The Pats clogged it well. Brown held up, and Kuhn moved over in front of Payne. They all crashed down in a heap with Hightower, Richards, and Freeny.

3rd and 9, Panthers went into a 3-Wide Weak shotgun. The Pats matched up in their 3-3 Nickel, but spread it out very wide with eight guys up on the LOS. Long got a nice rush. He Bulled the ORT back, but got knocked down by the double before he could hit Anderson. Which was good, because he threw the ball right to Harmon on the goal line. The Pats brought four. Johnson ripped straight up the gut and was in Anderson's face as he threw.

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The Panthers took a page from the Pats Preseason playbook, and stick Newton back in after giving the backup a surprise series. Pats matched up in a 3-2 Dime. Grissom lined up outside, and he had a nice rush. He jammed the ORT back, got his outside shoulder, but then tried to cut back inside and lost his momentum.

Flowers went inside-out, tried to distract the OLT and OLG, as Cyrus Jones blitzed outside. It worked, as Jones hopped untouched past the OLT. But the RB chipped him just before Newton threw. Newton hit Funchess with a perfect pass. Coleman had good coverage all the way across the field on the short cross, and tackled him immediately.

2nd and 6, Panthers went Empty. Pats stayed in their 3-3 Nickel with Grissom in for Long, and Hightower standing up on the other side. Grissom faked the rush, and then picked up the RB. Collins thundered up the middle and panicked Newton out of the pocket. He was forced to then throw it away.

Valentine grabbed the OC and slanted him to the left, into the ORG and trapped him behind the OC. "Well, I'd say the players he is playing against are a lot different than what he played against in college, let's start with that," BB said. "I don't know that the techniques are that dramatically different, but it's a whole different level of competition. He's making progress. He didn't get a lot of playing time in the Chicago game. He played some but he got more last week. So I think that was good for him, good for him to see that. We'll just keep going. He's making progress." Collins then twisted behind this great move/block by Valentine, and found a path untouched to Newton. Newton twisted away at the last split-second. Against any other QB that is an instant sack.

3rd and 7, Pats matched up in a 2-3 Dime and with all five guys on the line. Richards moved over a little like he is the Mike, but he is eyeing the RB next to Newton. Johnson had a great rush. He beat the ORG and slashed into the ORT, which allowed Grissom to stunt under him and get a free lane to Newton. 

He had to throw it a little early, and it was way off course with the 260-pound Grissom charging at him. "I think Geneo has done a good job for us all spring and in training camp," BB said. "Again, he's out there every day, he works hard, he gets better because he's a regular participant and a hard working kid. He has really improved in the kicking game, which wasn't something that he did a lot at Oklahoma, but he has improved there in a lot of areas; blocking, covering, just overall instincts and understanding, as well as defensively giving us depth at the defensive end position. He's doing a good job." Craven gave up too much room outside on the curled-off Out. But Ginn dropped it to force punt.

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1st and 10, Newton was 7 for 17 for 58 yards and 2 INTs as he came in for his final series of the Half. "He's big, athletic, strong and hard to get down," BB said. "So you think your task is done when you defeat the offensive blocker, but you've still got the job of sacking Cam Newton. So we just had to keep on going after him and hope we got him." Those are some incredible numbers for the Pats defense.

Panthers lined up in a 4-3 Strong shotgun. The Pats matched up in their 3-3 Nickel. The Pats bring three, and the blocking was solid. Newton hit the slot WR dragging over the middle, and Hightower tackled him clean off his feet and sent him 3-yards backwards in the air. Great form tackle.

1st and 10, the Pats matched up in the 3-3 Nickel. They rushed four. Newton has time. Until Long sheds the ORT with a violent inside move. The OLG hits him to give Newton enough time to throw it to Funchess. Coleman had great coverage. He dived in front of Funchess, and he might have tipped the ball.

3rd and 7, Pats matched up with the 2-3 Dime with Richards at the Will. Long stunted under Johnson, who was then tackled. But Long got a lane to Newton. Newton had to move to his right, and then threw a bad pass to Ginn as Long slapped him, and Johnson got to him late to force the punt.

Johnson played very well again in the rush. He has become an up field player since he lost all the weight. "We knew that he had done that," BB said. "We had just never seen him at that weight. He didn't play at that weight at LSU and when he came into the league he wasn't [at that weight]. So he was a different player than what we had seen. No, we didn't think he was going to come in here at 330 or whatever. If Alan Branch weighed 300 pounds what would he look like? I don't know. You'd have to see that to see what it looks like." He might look like Anthony Johnson.

 

1st Quarter: Pats Defense.

By TOM

The Patriots kick off to start the game. One of the best glimpses into who the bottom of the roster guys are going to be is on special teams. "Players are playing more than one position to increase their value and improve our overall team depth if and when we move people around or want to move people around," BB said. "Again, it's improving in every area collectively as a team and each individual, whatever their particular role is, they have to get better at that." Coaches don't like to admit it, but the third Preseason game is considered the dress rehearsal.

They want to make everything as close as it can get, without game planning for the Preseason game, to Week One of the season. "We have a lot of players in there," BB said. "We've played a number of players in those positions whether it be the 10 kickoff coverage positions or on the punt team, the various spots there from gunners to personal protectors to slots to the guys on the line of scrimmage. We've had a lot of different combinations in there and we're just working to make sure that we are sound in what we're doing." When these guys come out for the opening kickoff it is the first sign that they are winning the positional battles they are in on special teams.

Having the third game on the road, like their first game of the season helps a ton. "But we've had good plays, there are some things that we've been doing right across the board, and then we have some plays that aren't so good," BB said. "A lot of times there are guys doing things right or well, but we have a couple breakdowns or one breakdown and it results in a positive play for our opponent. It doesn't mean everything is wrong because something bad happened and it doesn't mean everything was right because something good happened. It means that we try to build on the things that were done right and we try to improve on the things that need to be done better. That's really for every offensive, defensive and special teams play throughout the preseason." So the building starts here, with the opening kickoff.

These were the starters on the opening kickoff (besides Gostkowski of course): Jonathon Jones, Brandon King, Grissom, Harmon, Nate Ebner, Darryl Roberts, Slater, Clay Harbor, Bolden, and Jonathan Freeny. Now it could be the last chance saloon for some of these guys. But it is a sign that they are likely to make the team.

Johnathan Jones, Clay Harbor, and Darryl Robert are the three biggest surprises. This is the dress rehearsal for Arizona. These are the starters the Special Teams coach wants to start Week One of the regular season. The question is can he find a roster spot for those three guys. It is interesting that Kamu Grugier-Hill wasn't covering the Kick off. "A lot of improvement," BB said about Kamu. "He, again, comes from a smaller program. He really played linebacker there. His role here has been more towards sub-linebacker if you will and the kicking game, so it's different than what he did in college. But he's a smart kid, he's athletic, he has got good work ethic, he has been a very dependable player for us on a daily basis, coming in [and] knowing what to do, being prepared, working hard to do it, correcting his mistakes, moving on to the next day, all of those kinds of things that are good qualities to have and he's making a lot of progress. We'll see where it goes, but there are definitely some new things for him. I think he has handled them fairly well. There have been mistakes but they get corrected and we move on, so that's part of the process. We know that's going to happen." Elandon Roberts was also not on this unit.

King got down there first. But it was Ebner and Darryl Roberts who made the tackle. "Everybodyís doing good," Roberts said. "Everybodyís playing good. So Iíll really let the coaches handle the depth charts and stuff, and we can control what we can control. Just go out there, fly around and have fun." The fact that he started the game and got in on some special teams tackles bodes well for him.

1st and 10, the Pats defense came out in their new look 4-3, with Elandon Roberts starting at MLB next to Collins, and Hightower on the line outside the TE on the blindside. Chris Long got a nice rush, but he was doubled by the ORG.

Flowers destroys the OLT with a push pull and almost pulls him face first into the ground. But the FB/RB Tolbert doubled him long enough for the OLT to get back in position. Newton threw a wild pass to Benjamin, who was well covered by Logan Ryan. The only hole Ryan left to throw into was high. He threw it too high. Roberts gave a little shove to the tight end crossing and then dropped back in the LB zone.

When you have two DEs that teams have to double, that really screws up the passing game. "It's always tough at that position against Carolina," BB said. "It's not easy but I thought they were waiting on us, but Trey and Chris stayed after it and made it a little uncomfortable for them back there. But this is a tough team to rush against with their scheme and their quarterback at that position. You don't want him outside, you don't want to run past him, but you can't run through the tackles either, so you have to keep working and stay on the move and keep fighting. It's a tough battle against those guys." They made it tough for Carolina O-tackles, who needed help all night long.

2nd and 10, Pats matched up in their 3-4 looking 4-3, with Hightower and Collins up on the line. The big DTs held up inside, and Roberts filled the hole from the Mike. He crashed into the RB a yard behind the LOS. The RB tried to bounce off, but he held on and the RB finally fell down for about a yard. Flowers and Brown hopped on top after. But that tackle was all Roberts.

3rd and 9, Panthers went empty. Pats matched up in a 3-2 Dime, with Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Butler, and Chung (on the TE) as the Corners, and Harmon and McCourty at Safety. That is your regular season 1st-string Dime package for the secondary. They doubled Flowers with the OLG and OLT. He stopped, and stunted around Johnson.

Both Flowers and Johnson broke free and stumbled towards Newton, but don't really get close. "They have big pad holes, and their quarterback is so hard to get," BB said. "A couple of times they didn't block us, and we still couldn't get him down. It's hard to fight off those tackles and get to the quarterback and then get him to the ground, and not lose contained but rush aggressively. So it was a big challenge for those guys. I thought they competed well." Ryan had good coverage on Funchess. The pass is low and outside and he has no chance to catch it.

4th and 9, Pats come out to return. Ebner, Slater, Bolden, King, Grissom, Harmon, Richards, Harbor, and Chung and Jonathan Jones as the Jammers outside. King hits the punters' foot with his helmet. So they repeat 4th down on 4th and 4, the punter punts it out of bounds terribly.

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1st and 10, Pats stay 4-3, but Valentine and Brown switched sides. Brown shades the Nose, and Valentine lined up a 4-tech in front of the OLG. They ran a Smash right at Valentine. Valentine hit the RB at the line, but didn't wrap up. Stewart lowered his head and bounced off Valentine to the outside. 

Flowers held the outside as the OLT dived inside, but the ORG pulled over and slammed into him hard. Flowers used his hands to toss him to the ground. But he rolled into Flowers legs, and took him down. Stewart bounced outside, and Chung took him down, with Collins and Ryan. Refs call holding.

1st and 20, Pats in a 3-3 Nickel with Long standing up. Chung had great coverage on the TE. Long got up field fast, and almost got to Newton. Newton hit Ginn, who beat Butler with a push off and stopped. They doubled Flowers again with the OLG and then the OLT.

2nd and 14, Pats matched up in a 2-3 Dime. The protection was solid, but the coverage was better. It looked like Newton more threw the ball away than to Ginn or Benjamin. "I thought they competed hard," BB said about his defense. "It's a tough group to play against. They have big receivers. They have a big quarterback. They run the ball well. They are physical up front, but I thought we competed very well. Obviously we didn't finish the game very well, defensively. But we played pretty tough for three quarters." Pats rushed three, and the coverage was excellent.

3rd and 14, Pats matched up in a 2-3 Dime, but it looked like they were coming. Hightower got a good blast off, but got washed past Newton by the OLG and OLT. Long got past Newton. He broke inside the ORT and looked like he is going to sack Newton. However, Flowers got in a hand fight with the OC. Johnson also had a nice inside move and crashed into the OC sending both Flower and the OC off balance. Flowers regained his balance first, and pulled his way past the OC right into Newton for the sack to force the punt.

Flowers has some of the strongest hands I have ever seen. "We just keep working hard and continue to get after the quarterback," Flowers said. "We know that in order to be a good defense up front, we have to continue to come out here and try to do the best that we can." They had Johnson and Flowers rushing inside in that Dime sub package.

It was nice to get a Sack on Newton early. "He's big, athletic, strong, and hard to get down," Flowers said. "So you think your task is done when you defeat the offensive blocker, but you've still got the job of sacking Cam Newton. So we just had to keep on going after him and hope we got him." He is as tough to get to as Carson Palmer.

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1st and 10, Pats came out in a 3-3 Nickel. The Pats brought five, but Newton had time. Benjamin beat Ryan on an Out for the 1st, but flags were unfurled. They call the shove-off on Benjamin.

1st and 20, Pats matched up in a 3-3 Nickel with Long standing up again. They ran a play action bubble screen. The D-line went for the fake, and Newton got the ball outside to Ginn fast. Cyrus Joes came off the slot WR quickly, and got in front of Ginn. But Ginn juked him out, and got the sideline behind a block from the other WR Bersin. He turned up field for about 10.

2nd and 8, Pats matched up in a 2-3 Dime. The rush was good. Flowers got an amazing rush again. He split the OLG and OLT's double team, and almost sacked Newton. Collins blitzed and got cracked viciously by the RB, but almost got to Newton anyway. Newton had to force the throw a little early. He threw it just a tick too far inside to his giant outside WR Benjamin.

Logan Ryan, playing with his usual great position. "It's good," Ryan said. "We're continuing to get the ball. Which is something that we've harped on. I think we've said time and time again. Turnovers are contagious. That's what we're trying to do and it's showing up and we're going to keep on sticking to the drills and stuff in practice and, hopefully, have it pan out like that." He leaped up and intercepted the ball with his great hands and knack for catching the ball.

For those of you who think defense wins Championships, the Pats have not given up a 1st down against the near Super Bowl winning offense from last season, in their first three attempts. "We always try to be a confident group," Ryan said. "We put a lot of work in. So to see it, a game like [Carolina] is what we want. But we're kind of moving on to the Giants now, transitioning to this matchup." We will need that effort against Arizona.

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1st and 10, Pats matched up in their 4-3 with five guys on the line. They got a good push, but Newton 3-stepped and threw in rhythm off his back foot to Funchess. He was being covered by Butler. Funchess got up field fast, got Butler moving backwards, and came back for the ball. Nice pattern by Funchess.

2nd and 1, Pats match up in a 3-4 with Long and Hightower standing up outside. Newton was in the shotgun. They ran an option, which froze Long. He had Stewart, and let him slash by him as he eyed Newton. Stewart flashed all the way to the forty for the Panthers first 1st down of the game. McCourty and Butler made the tackle 24-yards down field.

1st and 10, Pats stayed in the 4-3. The Panthers lined up in a Strong formation.  Long got doubled. Flowers got up field nicely, but got washed outside. Valentine got the best rush. He powered the OLG straight back, and slipped. He fell forward into Newton as he threw the ball. This caused the pass to get a little high. Butler was deep down the sideline covering Funchess. He was eyeing Newton and saw him throwing the ball over the middle to Dickson down the seam. So he left his coverage and flew over to Dixon. The ball bounced high off his fingertips. Before Funchess could pull it back in, Butler slammed his shoulder pads right into his ribs and chopped him down.

That was a great play by Butler. "It was great," Butler said. "You know, another chance to go out there and get it done. The game [doesnít] count, but it really does count because you know you learn from your mistakes. This [doesnít] count that bad against you. But you know, you just go out there and prepare for each week." He looked like he could take another step up this season.

2nd and 10, the Pats stayed in the 4-3. They gave it to Stewart, but the D-line won. He tried to pop it outside. But Chung and McCourty were blitzing that edge, with Butler coming up behind them. He turned inside, and Chung dived at his legs. Flowers dived right through his guts and knocked straight backwards on his butt. Great tackle by Flowers. Great game by Flowers.

3rd and 11, Pats went into an aggressive 3-2 Dime with eight guys up on the line against the 3-Wide shotgun. The Pats bring five, but Collins dropped out of the rush to spy Newton. Hightower covered Tolbert sneaking out of the backfield. Long broke free and almost sacked Newton. Johnson fought through the double team. He almost got Newton, but he got tackled instead. So Newton was forced to take off. He beat Collins to the corner. But Collins was still able to catch up, and shove him out of bounds short of the marker.

4th and 2, and the Panthers went for it. Pats matched up in a 3-2 Dime with all front-five up on the LOS. The OLG and OLT doubled Flowers. Hightower spied Newton. Johnson busted up the gut through the double team, and forced Newton to scramble to the left a little. Newton was able to throw the ball before Johnson can hit him. He hit Bersin in the hands, and he dropped it and fell down.

1st Quarter: Pats Offense.

By TOM

1st and 10, Pats came out in a twins-R Weak formation. Develin went in motion behind Bennett, lined up outside of Solder. Cannon is terrific in pass pro. The DE dropped in a zone blitz. Cannon kickslides back eyeing him. But when he saw him drop he doubled the DT with Kline. Garoppolo ran a quick play action facing the left. Then turned to the right and fired a bullet at Hogan, who ran a quick In. He caught it with his hands, and turned up field before anyone could get a hand on him. He ran past the magic yellow line and got another eight. 

Hogan is finally starting to look like a starter to me. "He works hard," BB said. "He's tough and he's smart. He's moldable, good position player. He has position flexibility, inside and outside. As our other receivers do, so we can move guys around a little bit in the blocking and running game. He can play in the kicking game. We haven't used him there but he's done that so he gives us some versatility." He has terrific natural hands.

1st and 10, the Pats lined up in a 2-TE I formation. They sent Bennett in motion to balance the line. Thuney got jacked right off the snap by Short, and popped back three yards. That was the first time I saw him get knocked backwards or off balance so far this Preseason. However, he got his balance back, and somehow held onto to Short. Gaffney scooted by less than a foot from his back foot. Bennett and Solder both had great blocks outside of Thuney, and Develin was out in front of him. Develin dived down at the foot of the CB Bradberry, who was last defender who could stop him from turning the corner. He turned and smashed into two defenders past the marker.

1st and 10, Pats came out in a 4-Wide Weak shotgun with Edelman on the right. He motioned into a Bunch with Hogan and Bennett. They ran a screen to White on the other side, behind Dopson. Dopson took off down field with an outside move to drag the CB out of the play. But it is badly blocked by the O-line. By the time he caught the ball and turned, three defenders were there. Karras was late getting outside. Thuney was the only one who got out in front of White, and Thomas Davis shoved him off and made the tackle. 

That is two bad blocks by Thuney to start the game. "Joe has done a good job with what we've given him," BB said. "There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I'd say temporary move, it wasn't [meant to be] permanent. But he has handled it well." The NFL is a different world when you are playing against a great defense, and not the crappy defenses we faced the first two weeks. 

2nd and 10, Pats came out as only they can, in a twin-twins Strong shotgun, with two TEs with their hand in the dirt on the Blindside. Derby lined up outside of Bennett. "Heís improving," BB said about Derby. "Heís a young player that only played the position for a short amount of time, basically a year down in Arkansas, has a lot to learn, has a ways to go, but has some skills to work with. Heís a smart kid, he works hard, and heís gotten better. Heís making some plays for us in the kicking game, some tackles in coverage. He has caught the ball and blocked competitively. Heís done some good things." He is getting some run with the Ones. 

Bennett went in motion between Cannon and Edelman. Both tight ends stayed in to block. The O-line blocked well on the misdirection play action to the left. Garoppolo faked the hand off to Gaffney, and he headed to the left and blocked the DE. Garoppolo turned and fired the ball to Hogan on a short Out, but he is hit quickly before he can get the 1st.

3rd and 4, Pats in a 4-Wide shotgun, with Gaffney up towards the line in front of Garoppolo like an H-back. He snuck out between Andrews and Karras (I thought he would stay in to double one of the big DTs). Karras blocked one of the big DTs very well. 

Garoppolo fired the ball at Edelman. "It was good [to see Edelman back in]," Garoppolo said. "Julian he hasn't been out there as much as everyone would hope, but he came out here and it was good to see him running around. Just getting him back out there is always nice." He wasn't looking at Garoppolo as he threw. 

Edelman saw the ball way too late, and it zoomed past his hands, and hit Kuechly right between the whites of his eyes. "It was just a little miscommunication between us," Garoppolo said. "I can't make a throw like that, I can't put it in the linebacker's hand, give him a chance like that. I just have to be smart in the Redzone like that." Edelman turned a little when he saw Kuechly coming. 

He was adjusting the route a little and took his eyes off Garoppolo, and that's when Garoppolo fired. "No, it's my fault," Jimmy-G said. "I can't put it in the linebacker's hands like that, that's just bottom line. I just have to be smarter down there, tight windows, tight throws and just have to finish with some touchdowns." It was nice of Jimmy-G to take the heat, but it was Edelman who turned away from him to look at Kuechly. Edelman is definitely not ready for the regular season.

While the play was bad, it was great to see Edelman on the field. "I mean, you love to have a guy like that who is a competitor," Jimmy-G said. "Who is going to fight for you, and you know he cares about the game. It makes you want to play that much better and perform at a higher level just having guys around you like that. It's always nice to have that." The offense is going to desperately need him to play well against a stacked Arizona defense.

The snap was bad on the field goal attempt. The punter grabbed it on the wrong side of his knee and got it down a hair late. Gostkowski missed it. Pats-0.

1st and 10, and you better pay attention to this play. Pats come out in a 3-Wide Singleback. Harbor went in motion. They gave it to Gaffney on a sweep. He used his speed to get outside on the fastest linebacking corp. in the NFL. "Camp is going great," Gaffney said. "Still here. Still healthy. Thatís all you can ask for coming off the two seasons that Iíve had. Iím excited to be contributing." But they call holding on Edelman (who is just so not ready for the regular season).

1st and 20, Pats came out in a 4-wide Weak shotgun. They run a WR screen to Hogan, but the Panthers read it. They hit him at the line, and he fell forward for a couple. The O-linemen seemed to get out there in time, but the DE Wes Horton read it well (I thought he played very well in this game). The play was designed to trick Horton, but it didn't. He almost batted the pass down, and then turned and smashed right into Hogan.

2nd and 18, Pats in a 3-wide Weak shotgun. White stayed in to block as the Panthers brought five. He had a nice hit on Davis, but couldn't hold it. The O-line blocked it well. Garoppolo had time to throw. But he held onto the ball for too long against a great defense. Davis swam over White, and hit Garoppolo as he threw. The ball bounced in the dirt in front of Derby. He will have to throw quicker than that in Arizona.

3rd and 18, Pats in a 3-wide Winged-shotgun, with White and Bolden winged on both sides of Garoppolo. They zone blitzed: the ILB blitzed, and the strongside DE zone dropped. White went out in pattern, and Bolden had to stay in to block. He had to pick up Davis, who blitz between Thuney and Solder. But Thuney doubled the big DT with Andrews. Mario Addison ran around Solder, and slapped Garoppolo on the shoulder pad to force him to take off. They gave him a yard to force the punt. King made the tackle, with Freeny and Ebner on the punt. 

1st and 10, Pats came out in a tight I. Garoppolo dropped, off the play action, and threw in rhythm to Dopson on an Out. Dopson grabbed it with his big mitts. He always had good hands. He got both feet down, and hopped out of bounds near midfield for the nice 1st down.

When he is on the field Dopson has been consistently productive. "Aaronís had a good spring and a good few days here at training camp," BB said. "I think weíve seen that from him before. Iíd say Aaron just, for whatever reason, hasnít been able to consistently be on the field and do it. You know, when heís been out there heís looked good a lot, but he hasnít always been out there for one reason or another." Now that his foot is finally healed, he has to prove he can keep the rest of his body on the field and helping his QB (whoever that maybe). I still think he is the most physically talented WR on the roster.

1st and 10, Pats went into a 3-TE Singleback. All three tight ends lined up outside of Solder, and all four blocked well. But Blount blasted right up the middle and ran into a wall. Karras pulled to the left and hit Davis hard enough to piss him off. He took a swipe at Karras as he fell down. Thuney fell down for his third bad block of the game. Andrews sealed the DT to the other side. 

2nd and 10 in the 3rd drive of the 1st quarter, Pats came out in a 3-Wide Weak shotgun. Garoppolo had a ton of time, but doesn't throw the ball. This play was an example of him imitating Brady a little too much.

3rd and 26, they just handed it to White, and Kuechly took him out behind the LOS to force the punt. But the coverage was good. The Panthers don't get as good field position as you'd think. Plus, the refs stepped up and called a block in the back on Bradberry, which sent them back half the distance to the Goal line. 

And Oh My Goodness Brady stepped out onto the field. The Pats came out in an I. Brady dropped, and sort of play actioned. The protection was excellent, and he threw in rhythm to Dopson 15-yards down field. Dopson caught it, and broke two tackles, and turn and ran all the way down to the 12. Dopson just ran down the seam like a tight end. This is turning into the best damn Preseason game ever. 

1st and 10 at the 12, Pats went into a 3-Wide Strong shotgun. Brady had time as the O-line was great. He fired a rocket right through Edelman's unready hands. Which sure seemed like the second time to me. He is clearly not ready for the regular season yet. 

2nd and 10, Pats came out in an I again. Brady gave it to Blount. He went straight ahead, and then hopped to his left behind Develin. Andrews and Thuney occupied the two DTs, and Solder powered the DE inside. Develin went outside of Solder. Blount slashed inside of Develin's block, lowered his head, and sliced inside the 10 to the 7.

3rd and 5 from the Seven, Pats came out in a 4-Wide Strong shotgun. Brady dropped and had time. He lofted the ball to the back of the endzone, and it doinked off of both of Bennett's hands. That would have been a tough catch, but you gotta bring that one in every time. Bennett has to know the QBs are going to go high to him in the Endzone. The O-line was great again. The snap is good, and Gostkowski scores the first points of the game. Pats-3.

Scrambling Doesn't make You A Scrambling QB.

By TOM

Rewind to 2nd and 10 on the 3rd drive of the 1st quarter, Pats came out in a 3-Wide Weak shotgun, and Garoppolo panicked when the coverage was too good to throw into. So he turned and ran backwards 16-yards. He didn't get outside the "tackle-box" (which I always thought was an odd expression), and got called for intentional grounding.

This play was an example of him imitating Brady a little too much. "Like I said, it's little things here and there," Jimmy-G said. "Overall there were some good things we did tonight, but we have to get the little things corrected or we're going to bite us in the butt." He was a much better scrambler his first two seasons. It was a huge part of his repertoire. 

Now he seems to panic when he should be scrambling, like he is thinking "would Brady do this?" Instead of reacting. "They're a good defense, so you've got to tip your hat to them on some of those plays," Jimmy-G said. "It's just little things here, little things there that you learn. Experience obviously helps, but it's just something you have to learn from and move on." He needs to be using everything he's in his repertoire, not just what he can copy from Brady.

He studied Brady so intently that he even looked like him on a couple of throws in this game. Which is the smartest thing he could have ever possibly done over the past two and half years. You can never criticizes a QB for copying the GOAT. However, He has to learn when it is okay to do things differently than Brady. He is not a carbon copy of Brady. He has much better feet, legs, and athleticism than Brady. He needs to take that next step, where he copies what he can from Brady, but adds some of his strengths that Brady doesn't have. He is a much better scrambler than Brady.

He can positively look like Aaron Rogers running with the ball in his hands sometimes, and when everything breaks down he has to use that strength. "It's been a good training camp so far for sure," Jimmy-G said. "We've made a ton of progress as an offense and as a team. We've just got to keep moving in the right direction." He has to learn that he can be different than Brady. That he has to be different than Brady, sometimes.

I know it's the Preseason and maybe he was told not to scramble, like Cam Newton obviously was told this Preseason. "We're certainly not where we need to be," BB said when asked about Garoppolo. "I don't think any player is, I don't think any coach is and I'm sure no team is at this point, but we're all making progress and that's good. We just have to keep our foot on the gas and try to make it as quickly as we can. The same goes for everybody." He was just such a great scrambler when he came here as a rookie.

Scrambling QBs don't win in the NFL. So it is understandable that he has focused so intently on reading defenses and throwing, and not running. But that doesn't mean that you can't make the decision to scramble when your team needs you too. I'm not saying he should be a scrambler. But sometimes you do have to scramble. Even Brady takes off sometimes. He needed to take off on that play, and not just run backwards. Instead he threw it away inside the Seams and they called intentional grounding, which essentially ended the drive.

He is not Tom Brady, and that is okay. "That's the first step as a quarterback," Jimmy-G said. "You have to make decisions [about] everything. That's pretty important. If you don't turn the ball over you give your team a good chance to win. When the defense is playing like they played today, three interceptions like that, it really helps you in field position and really every aspect." He can make some decisions that are different than Brady's, sometimes. Like using his great feet to gain yard sometimes when the coverage is too good to throw.

Pats Starting O-line.

By TOM

The Pats come out 1st and 10 to start the game. Karras is started at ORG. "I don't think that's an issue," BB said. "He is a smart kid. He has done that before. He has played both spots [OC and OG]. He has really been doing it since day one, since he has been here all throughout OTA's and mini-camp and training camp. He has gotten a lot of reps at guard and center. I think that relatively those are interchangeable. He has some position flexibility there. Obviously [he has] a lot to learn and a long way to go. But to this point I'd say he has been able to handle the combination of those positions well, both physically and from a learning standpoint. I don't think it has been a problem." I said in my 7-Things for Friday Night that whoever started at ORG if going to start the season in Arizona, but I'm not buying that now.

Upon further review, they threw some odd rookies into the starting lineup to see how they would play with the starters: Elandon Roberts, Valentine, and Karras, and the semi-rookie Gaffney. However was that an experiment or a preview? I thought the O-line played it's best this Preseason with Kline in at ORG. It seemed every prediction I made last week look bad after the game against Carolina.

It looks like Solder and Cannon are your starting Tackles. Thuney and Andrews with get the starts at ORG and OC. Kline or Karras is your starting ORG. There was a lot of hubbub about how Brady and the RBs stunk at the end of last season. But when your O-line falls apart do to injury, so does your offense.

They didn't really need to rebuild the line, they really just needed the injured guys to get healthy again. "I think at the start of camp you have questions about everybody, every position, every coach, I mean all of us," BB said about positional groups. "None of us have done anything, so until we can individually and collectively raise our levels of performance up then they're not there. It's something we all have to do every year in camp. Like I said, players, coaches, veterans, rookies, whoever you want. It's a new year. You've got to prove it all over again. You have to start all over again. Those questions don't get answered until you get out there and answer them. I know everybody puts together this year's roster based on last year. I think that's hard to do. I just don't buy into that, but I'm in the minority there so it doesn't really matter." They desperately needed Solder and Vollmer to return healthy. So they are half way there.

The only real new starter is Thuney, don't forget that Andrews and Kline started last year at OC and OLG (Jackson started at ORG) to start the season. "I think that playing time helped any rookie player going into the second year," BB said. "David played really well for us last year. He's really smart and has a good instinct for playing the center position. He's played it his whole life, since fifth grade or whatever, so he definitely knows how to play in there, but I would say the extra year probably just moves everything along a little bit. [He is] a little bit quicker, a little bit smoother with the identifications." A lot of people, including myself, thought Andrews was better than Stork last season.

He was clearly better this season after all the experience he garnered last season as a surprise starter. "Not that any of this I would say was a problem," BB said. "But it's just better with more experience. And [Davis's] more decisive, [has] quicker recognition. Just more experienced inside, and on different plays, and protections, and looks, and where to help, and how long to help a guy, and when you have to leave him for an assignment or sometimes you can't help them at all." He has the smarts that is vital at OC.

He knows how to help his other line-mates and hold them together. "Sometimes you can help them a lot depending on what the play is, or the assignment, or the location of the other defensive lineman, or the linebackers as the case may be," BB said. "It's a lot of little things like that. Kind of tying it together. That's an important part of the center position. [It] is helping the other four guys, two on either side of you, all see the same picture of the people that you're responsible for. A lot of little things. I don't think there is any big [thing]. But each protection is different, each play is different, every front that we go up against has a little bit of a nuance that's a little different than the next one. So, it's a lot of little things like that." He held the O-line together with two surprise rookies starting on either side of him. That should not be underrated.

The surprising rookie Thuney has taken over the OLG spot that hasn't been owned since Mankins. "I think he's certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point," BB said. "I don't think we're there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason; had a good spring." Hopefully he can own it for a decade like Logan.

And of course your new starting OC, for the hopefully the next decade, was starting as well. "David [Andrews] has been doing a great job this camp," Jimmy-G said. "The whole line as a whole it's a good group of guys. No one gets mixed and matched more than those guys do. To be able to work with different people all the time, you're getting adjusted to them, they're getting adjusted to you, it's really a credit to those guys and they all just handle it very well." He has played well since he stepped on the field as an undrafted rookie free agent last year.

He wrenched the leadership job of the O-line away from the higher drafted Stork. "The calls are a big part of it," Jimmy-G said about his Center. "But all the way across the board, the whole line, it's tough to play any one of those positions. There's a lot of communication that just an average fan sitting in the stands probably won't see just because in the trenches down there, it's tight quarters. There's a lot of communication between those guys and in the blink of an eye, the whole play can change for them. Those guys are doing a tremendous job for us though and hopefully they keep it going." They did play well as a unit in the first two games.

Of course just when it seems things might be settling down for the season, Jonathan Cooper returns to the practice field. "When you get [him] in here, you see the kind of person that he is," Scarnecchia said. "Really coachable. Good guy. Good worker. You could see why everyone down there (UNC) had a huge affinity for him. And we'll see how he fits in and how well, and how good we can get him to play. I think he'll do all right. I'm anxious to see how it goes." It would not be surprising to see him start at ORG against his old teammates at Arizona.

 

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