Oh, Football. Sweet, life-giving football. I prostrate myself before thee and beg your forgiveness for all of my many, many transgressions. Let's never fight again, okay? Just promise you'll never leave me.
It's not too often that I can say this, but last night's preseason matchup between the Patriots and Saints was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. The Patriots looked like I thought they would during the first scrimmage of the year, and there were some great things to take away on both sides of the ball, particularly from the rookies.
It's also not too often that I can say that I actually didn't pay all that close attention to last night's Patriots game. It just isn't the same when you have to stream the game on your computer rather than watch it on a big screen TV - particularly when that big screen TV has Women's Olympic Volleyball on it. That said, though, I paid close enough attention to jot down some thoughts for what will be an abbreviated version of my regular season Fan Notes series.
I'm obviously not going to go into as much depth with my preseason notes as I do for the meaningful games; these are more just quick hit thoughts and knee-jerk reactions to what I saw and what was going through my hydrated mind last night as I was watching.
Notes after the jump.
- For quite a while, I couldn't shake the feeling that the announcers were calling Devin McCourty Devin McCorny. I don't even care if I misheard, because that absolutely killed me.
- Stevan Ridley looked good, and he seems to have developed a great first cut that I don't remember seeing last season.
- I saw a lot of shotgun and a lot of 2 WR 2 TE packages from the first team. There wasn't a whole lot of success out of either of them, but 2 WR 2 TE might be the primary base offense this year. Something to keep an eye on,
- Possible new trend to watch out for this season: a new camera angle that fills your screen about 75% full of massive defensive lineman rump. Eesh.
- Rough day for Nate Solder. A few holding penalties and responsible for the first dirty Tom Brady jersey of 2012.
- Several times during the first few New Orleans offensive series, Brees had time to throw, but couldn't find anyone open down the field and had to go for the dump offs. While that means pretty much nothing, it's better to write that than "Drew Brees had plenty of time to throw and there were receivers open everywhere" - which is pretty much all I wrote last year.
- Losing Dane Fletcher is a blow. I don't think we'll be seeing him at all for the rest of the year. But while he was a solid contributor last season and Brandon Spikes' primary backup, he wasn't irreplaceable, nor was a he a lock to make the final roster, especially with all these linebackers. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back out there soon.
- For a preseason crowd, that was a pretty impressive ovation for Brandon Lloyd's first catch towards the end of the first quarter. It wasn't quite up to par with Deion Branch's in 2010 or Chad Johnson's in 2011 (although those cheers became more for the sake of irony than anything else as the season went on), but it's good to see the Foxboro faithful bringing It early.
- Okay, Okay. Nate Ebner's first hit didn't send anyone to the hospital and leave nothing but a human shaped hole in the middle of the field turf extending straight through to China. But it was a very nice shoestring tackle that helped give the Saints a long field and made up for Matthew Slater totally overrunning Morgan on the punt. Ebner had a great day on the coverage units.
- How much money would you pay to see Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork just run full speed at each other and smash bellies?
- At first it felt weird watching a Pats game and not knowing who anyone's number was - but then I just thought about watching last year's secondary and I got into the groove of things.
- Paging Mr. Deion Branch. Deion Branch, please report to the Patriots sidelines, you have a game to play. Hello? Anybody seen Deion? He didn't even dress which means either he's more hurt than we know, or he's on the way out.
- Saw a decent amount of Jermaine Cunningham in the backfield last night. Didn't generate any sacks, but he was definitely showing the coaching staff what he had.
- You can definitely see the influence of Tommy B on Ryan Mallett when he's in the pocket. There was that same kind of loose, relaxed fluidity and the ability to just make small steps and adjustments to keep the pressure off.
- Then, of course, Mallett threw the ball, and all comparisons pretty much stopped.
- On the opening kickoff to start the second half, I really, REALLY hope Julian Edelman just thought that if he got tackled in the end zone, it would be a safety. No other reason to take the ball out there.
- So far, I'm really impressed with the running game. Didn't see too much fullback action back there, but there's a lot to be excited about with this stable of backs. Hopefully that's also a good sign for this developing O Line, who had a shaky night overall.
- Did I hear the term "serious quicks" used by the announcers in description of Shane Vereen? That sounds like something I get a bad case of after a late night desperation stop at Arby's.
- I like that Shane Vereen looks upset after every time he gets tackled. He obviously has that mentality that he wants to score every time he touches the ball, and as long as he doesn't get stupid with the ball because of that drive, it could be a good sign for the future.
- I'm not gonna lie - I kind of wanted to put the slo-mo feature on my computer when Tommy B was jogging out to midfield to talk to Drew Brees after the game. Tan, fit, and the hair looks great. Move over, Bo Derek.
Overall, I liked what I saw last night. Neither team blew me away, and neither team looked awful. Tommy B is still shaking off the rust, the offensive line still needs some work, and the timing is still a little off. But there were a lot of great positives to overanalyze over the next few days, and I think this first preseason game was a great pace setter for the rest of August. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into my post-Patriots game ritual of taking the entire day to scour the internet for every possible Pats-related article.
Great start, gentlemen. Now let's get back to work.
By that I mean the Patriots, of course, not me. I have zero intention of getting back to work.