Last night the NFL season was officially kicked off. The Green Bay Packers squared off against the New Orleans Saints. And it was something of a game. Looking at the champions, I took several things from this game. For me even though the Saints had a chance to win, it wasn't that close to me. I thought Green Bay proved that they are a physical and dynamic team. More after the jump.The things I saw from the Packers last night was 1) speed on defense. They got there in a hurry. Linebackers, corners and safeties were all over some passes and a few of the Saints as well. 2) Strength. The defensive line of Green Bay could not be moved with pity or mercy in key situations. 3) Ball hawking. The whole team found ways to get their hands on the ball. Drew Brees easily could have thrown like 3 or 4 ints last night. The Packers didn't hold on to them. The fumble forced by the Packer's safety was huge too. 4) Solid pass blocking. Aaron Rodgers was laying on his couch with a magazine, drink, and remote control completing passes to his receivers. He was completing passes in the smallest of windows. He looks like he could have an MVP year this season. Possibly throw 40 touchdown passes .5) The receivers made plays. Guys caught balls with defenders all over them. Made defenders miss. And generally seemed unstoppable.
For the Saints I saw this. 6) Sean Payton lost patience with his running game. I thought when the score was 21-7, Sean Payton put the game on Drew Brees shoulders too early. There was still 3 and a half quarters of football left to play. And it cost him in key situations that he didn't stick with the run. Running would have slowed the pace of the game down. Kept Aaron on the sidelines, and allowed for the Saint defense to catch a break. I believe that was part of the reason the Saints got stopped on the goal line at the end of the game as well. 7) The Saint defense has only one play maker on defense. Malcolm Jenkins. I think they will be hard pressed to do damage against top level teams with few play makers on defense.
What does this have to do with New England? New England needs to improve in all of these areas named save one. Defensive play makers. I feel like they have enough play makers to make a difference. They just need to do it. But running the football, staying with the run, forcing turnovers, catching the ball, protecting Tom Brady, and being strong at the point of attack are all areas that New England needs to get better at. Yes they lead the NFL in ints last season. But the more opportunities the Patriots have to get their hands on the football, the more points the offense can score. And when you know that you could play the Packers for it all. Or any team in the AFC that is looked at as Super Bowl material, the more you can do, the harder that you are to defend. Interested in your thoughts.