If you're a Patriots fan you're probably feeling pretty good today. Your offense mauled the Falcons line without Logan Mankins, while your defense played text book Hoodie-style (at least the first team did). Now all of a sudden the Patriots are a dark horse to win the division that they've won seven of the last nine years. What?
Glad to see everyone else catching on to what we've known all off-season.
A bunch of Peter King-style Things I Think after the jump...
I think if all the running backs can stay healthy this year this could be the first ever four-headed monster backfield. I think everyone had to be at least a little surprised at how well Fred ran last night. They won't be throwing it to him, but that's okay, we have Kevin Faulk.
I really can't wait to see how Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Tate are used this year. We know what we're getting with Moss and Welker, but these new guys are going to be a whole new headache that most opposing fan bases have no clue about yet.
I thought Ron Brace was up and down last night. Everyone was ready to dub him the next Ty Warren off of one forced fumble, but he looked slow off the snap and got pushed back at times. He was okay at holding his ground others so there are some things to build off of. I'll give him the next two preseason games before I make any definitive judgement about him.
I'm not so sure about Marques Murrell as a starting OLB. He lost contain a couple times and was victimized in the passing game as well. Guessing it's Tully Banta-Cain and Derek Burgess as the OLB starters.
What you saw last night was the Belichick defense at it's finest. His will never be an all out attacking defense, one that is prone to get burned. It's read and react, be in position, and if they do make a completion tackle at the spot, preferably with some violence. It's a defense that forces you to consistently execute on offense, and one that will capitalize the second you make a mistake. It looks like Belichick taking more of a role with the defense is paying off.
Devin McCourty reminds me of a young Ty Law. Only faster. That jam at the line of scrimmage on third down was a veteran type play. I don't know which rookie I like best, nor do I know which will be the best.
I still have concerns about the d-line being able to dominate a line of scrimmage. However I think Brandon Spikes ability to blow guards back into the hole will be a huge help.
Just keep doing what you're doing, Dan Connolly.
This offense looks far better suited to play a ground-and-pound style. The smaller defenses that have been built to stop the spread offense will be in trouble when they face the Pats.
Don't you miss Ben Watson? Neither do I.
I'm still really pulling for Tyrone McKenzie, but the more I see him play the more I'm unsure if he's really a fit in this defense.
Need to keep a closer eye on Rob Ninkovich. Only thing I saw of him last night was when he got blasted by a block he didn't see coming.
When Leigh Bodden gets back I'll be excited to see how this secondary matches up against all the dangerous receiving teams the Pats will face. When was the last time the Pats had three excellent corners?
Wilfork and Gerard Warren swapped places at times against the Falcons, with Vince playing LDE and Warren taking the nose. The Pats will really need to land a stud d-lineman with one of their two first-rounders next year.
Is there another team that is so flush with young talent as the Patriots? There will be growing pains this year for sure, but regardless of how 2010 ends the future looks bright.