I missed writing up the Monday game against the Eagles, and with three games in ten days I was tempted to collapse all of the games into one article, but needing a break from doing real work at home,I will pause to look at the games against both the Eagles and Buccaneers. Just one more game until the regular season!
Pre-Season Game #2: Eagles 27, Patriots 17
The Patriots chose to rest many starters tonight, knowing that the team would be playing three games in the span of just ten games. And while the Patriots lost the game, the nigh has to be considered a victory of the Patriots because the Patriots second team looked solid in hanging with the Eagles throughout the first half. Nick Foles was able to come in after Michael Vick was injured to engineer a comeback win for the Eagles, aided by Patriots’ blunders on special teams.
Ryan Mallett (10/25, 105, 1/0) wasn’t fantastic, but we was good, and certainly outplayed Brian Hoyer (5/17, 55, 0/0). The front seven was active on defense, and the secondary, while giving up one 40 yard pass to DeSean Jackson, is showing clear improvement over last season.
As noted, Brian Hoyer did not look as good as Ryan Mallet, raising the possibility that Mallett could beat Hoyer for the backup position to Brady. If this happens, Hoyer may find himself traded or released given that his contract was tendered at the second round in the off-season. The offensive line looked improved from the first game, but Marcus Cannon is clearly a better guard than tackle. The Patriots can’t get Sebastian Vollmer quickly enough. Special teams were miserable against the Eagles, muffing two punts during the evening.
The ugly actually came from Michael Vick, who once again found a way to get taken out of the game early. Vick got hammered on the sixth offensive play by Jermaine Cunningham, hurting Vick’s ribs. While Nick Foles looks like a great backup for Vick, the Eagles will go as far as their starting quarterback will take them, and Vick has a history of getting pounded.
The Pleasant Surprise
Reserve tight end Alex Silvestro caught two passes tonight, including an 11 yard touchdown from Mallett.
Pre-Season Game #3: Buccaneers 30, Patriots 28
Don’t let the score fool you; the Patriots didn’t look nearly this good last night. The Patriots fell behind early and needed a late surge to make the final score respectable in their match-up against the Bucs. Brady was sacked twice and threw a pick six to spot the Bucs early. The Patriots finally got rolling at the end of the first half, with a scoring drive aided by a defensive pass interference call and a 29 yard run by Stevan Ridley, who eventually scored on a one yard run. Brady engineered another touchdown drive in the third quarter, connecting on a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski before giving way to Ryan Mallet, who led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and appears to have supplanted Brian Hoyer as the primary backup to Brady.
Stevan Ridley appears to have claimed the primary running back spot, netting 87 yards on 16 carries. Shane Vereen only carried twice before needing to leave due to injury. Aaron Hernandez caught five passes, and Marquice Cole had a great night on special teams and appears primed to claim a roster spot.
The offensive line was awful tonight, leading to solid hits on Brady and a strip sack. While Logan Mankins returned to the line, the entire line struggled, with the right side getting beat like a drum throughout the evening. This team is ready for Sebastian Vollmer to return, as Marcus Cannon continues to struggle at right tackle.
Bucs guard Davin Joseph was injured and is lost (likely) for the season with a broken kneecap.
The Pleasant Surprise
Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps saw his first action tonight and was impressive. He returned one kickoff for 23 yards and rushed the ball three times for 41 yards, including a long run of 29 yards. Nate Ebner joined Marquice Cole as a force on special teams.
The Patriots will be back in action on Wednesday, August 29th when they travel to New Jersey to face the Giants.