Let me say this.. again. Its only preseason fellas. A time where we experiment with different things, and shake the rust off for the regular season.
The main story is an obvious one. Tonight has been all about the defense.
With the Saints marching in on the first drive, we got a nice glimpse on what the defense COULD do. It's still preseason, however its hard not to notice how dominant our front 4 was. Nink, Wilfork, Love, and Jones were all disruptive on the Saints OL, and the LBs played well in space, plugged the holes, and did well in pass coverage.
But the play on defense is not just about the front 4. The secondary was doing very well. McCourty stuck to his man, Chung looked improve in coverage and we saw him make an important run stop. He reminds me of Rodney a lot. Arrington was okay. he got beat a few times.... badly. Gregory provided good FS play, and managed to snag a tipped ball by Mayo for an INT. Tavon Wilson was mostly silent, but that is not a bad thing, and Ras-I is making a strong case to be the #2 starting CB (as he should be imo).
Breaking down the front seven more, Jones was disruptive pretty much every play. When looking at the passing plays, he was giving Bushrod (?) a hell of a lot of trouble, and managed to get not one, or two, but more than 3 pressures on Brees and Daniel. He stood out with powerful bull rushes, as well as good hand usage to move the OT around.
Love and WIlfork were disruptive in the middle, as they should be. Love especially looks improved. He looked stronger, penetrating the OL very nicely.
Nink on the other side should get some mention as well. He was getting pressure nicely, dropping back into coverage, and setting the edge against the run. Its hard to not see him as the starter opposite of Jones.
Fellow rookie Hightower made some noise as well. A couple hiccups here and there but for the most part he looked like the baby of Mayo and Spikes. Tough, strong dude who also has good range and awareness. He was pretty good in coverage, but he showed very good vision and pop against the run (our run defense was excellent with our 1st team). Mayo made a nice tip to add to his highlights of the night. Mayo was playing fast, and covering a lot of ground. A lot of the action came up front, but Mayo was playing like his 2010 form. I'm very excited to see how our fron seven will be when Spikes returns.
Other players to note:
Cunningham was very good with the 2nd team. Getting pressure, and setting the edge.
Trevor Scott was wreaking havoc against the Saints second and third stringers. If Nink had to start at OLB, I wouldn't be worried if either Scott or Cunningham start in his place.
Sterling Moore looked great. I wouldn't mind if he started over Arrington personally for the slot position. But that's just me.
But I cannot leave the offense out. Brady was slightly shaky, but the drives were not helped by Nate Solder and the OL. Yeah sure, Lloyd dropped a pass, but Solder killed at least two drives with 2 penalties and giving up a sack which led to a fumble. Overall, the OL, particularly the outside, was below average. Scar would need to shape these guys up in case Waters and Vollmer don't come back (I'm confident in Mankins returning).
Gaffney was targeted a few times. He looked like Gaffney. Solid.
Stallworth was not targeted often, and came away with 1 catch for 1 yard. The pats will be running a two TE offense, so I won't be surprised if either Gaffeny or Stallworth will be cut.
Britt Davis looked meh. Sure he got a TD grab, but he dropped two passes, and looked bleh.
Edelman was the saving grace of Mallet and Hoyer. He ended up with the most catches of the day, and was dependable for the two QB.
Speaking of the two QBs, I think its safe to say why Hoyer is still the #2 QB. He just seems better in the pocket, and has better accuracy. Much better. To be fair with mallet, his WRs were dropping his passes. Probably due to how hard he was throwing the ball. No surprise that he still looks raw though, but it would help both QBs if the OL was a lot better.
The bright spot of the offense was its two RBs. I know, strange we don't say passing attack. Both Ridley and Vereen looked solid, getting big runs, and showing nice vision. Bolden was up and down, but we could see why there was so much buzz around him.
Keep in mind everyone that this is still preseason. With the next preseason game, I would like to see Ras-I start over Arrington, and Vereen start over Bolden. I would also like to see Trevor Scott get 2nd team reps opposite of Cunningham. Preseason is a time for experiments, so lets see what works here.
Devin McCourty (I mean c'mon. He was great. He was stuck to his man, and provided solid coverage.)