Yes, ladies and gents, it was a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that put this game in the win column for the New England Patriots. Yes, I know, it takes the whole team to pull off a win, but we won by 3. I think you get the point. There were some shining moments, some average ones, and some downright horrendous play. But that's what preseason is all about - it's like a rehearsal, a time to work out the kinks and see what's what.
As we've discussed before, Hoodie uses preseason games like they're supposed to be used - to try stuff out and give players, especially the ones who need them, valuable NFL reps. I thought it was interesting that, amongst others, Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk, and Shawn Springs were not present. There could be any number of reasons from personal issues to the need to rest, but I have a different theory: Belichick wanted to see how the team would do without those weapons in the arsenal. It forced the team to play differently, using Greg Lewis and Randy Moss in close. It also gave Laurence Maroney a chance to rack up 3 for 30 yards receiving without Faulk to take charge. And with Shawn Springs not present, Darius Butler got far more reps than he normally would.
More after the jump...
- Brady & Moss - Tom Brady and Randy Moss connected for two long ball touchdowns, 26 and 27 yards respectively. I'm not ready to declare them in 2007 season form, but it was good to see Tom connecting with #81 on some nice adjusted pass plays (on one TD, Moss had to change his route inside and Brady correctly read the adjustment).
Laurence Maroney - Yes, Maroney was a bit inconsistent, but there were inklings of possibilities to come. He made some nice horizontal cuts to get between the defensive line and linebackers. However, 7 for 16 doesn't necessarily put him at the top of the running back corps. The real reason I have him in the "Good" section is his receptions. Pulling down 3 for 30 yards, he was very Kevin Faulk-ish. Who knows, maybe that's the plan for him. He also had a very nice kickoff return for 35 yards.
- Stephen Gostkowski - G Man continues to prove why he's one of the best kickers in football. He's always money when extra points and field goals are needed. But, I think he's just as valuable, if not more valuable, on kickoffs. With two touchbacks, Gostkowski pins Skins on their 20, eliminating the possibility of a breakout return.
- Pass Rushing - With 4 sacks to their credit, it appears pressure was the name of the game (DT Steve Williams had 2).
- Pass Coverage - Allowing 268 yards passing, coverage was weak at best. Our corners are still getting burned, but that could be youth coming into play; Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, and Jonathan Wilhite saw a lot of action and they're still learning. Let's hope they learn fast because we need it.
- The Backfield - Overall, I was not impressed. I've been hoping Fred Taylor would come in and light the place up, but I'm not seeing it. Laurence Maroney still struggles trying to find the holes. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say the Skins did a nice job of plugging up the holes, but Sammy Morris always seems to find a way through. The lone bright spot in this mess was BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 6 for 49.
- Penalties - 7 for 82 yards. When you have an 11.7 yard average, there were some expensive ones in there. Matthew Slater's 15 yard fair catch interference penalty was just plain dumb, a mental error. If the kick returner is clearly waving a fair catch, do everything you can to get out of the way. Stop, fall down, something. A 23 yard defensive pass interference by Darius Butler didn't help either and a 15 yard roughing the passer by Steve Williams was hard to take.
- Brady's Shoulder - Having Albert Haynesworth fall on Brady and jam his throwing shoulder into the ground was not fun to watch. Seeing Brady try to loosen his shoulder up on the sidelines was even less fun to watch. But not seeing start the third quarter was the worst. Mike Reiss has a super breakdown of the play which shows just how complex it can be to defend against rushes as well as maintain primary and secondary blocking assignments.
What's your Good, Bad, and Ugly? Who's on the bubble and who made a name for themselves? Don't forget, our armchair coaches will have their analysis up within the next day or so.