The football season has begun! Here are who impressed and who appeared to come out flat.
1) Julian Edelman: What can be said? This second year receiver was the monster of the game. He was a YAC machine, he caught everything and he showed why people might not have to worry about Wes Welker sitting out a couple games.
2) Brandon Spikes: Spikes showed why he was initially a 1st round prospect. Tremendous instincts, he was a tackling machine and it was clear the tenacity he brought to the defense.
3) BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Laurence Maroney and Chris Taylor: Have to group up the running backs. The Patriots rested their 30 year olds and gave the young guys a chance. BJGE opened up the game with solid running. He was consistent and was good for 3 or 4 yards every single carry. Maroney stepped in and did the same. Then Taylor entered and dominated (albeit against 3rd stringgers). I'd rather see this strong running than dancing in the backfield. Great step-up and I hope these players keep up this aggression.
4) Pat Chung - He stepped in well at SS and was a solid tackler. He was always a step behind breaking up the pass, but he never let the receiver get away and usually gave up 0 yards after the catch. I look forward to his contributions on defense.
5) Devin McCourty - He didn't really get called at defensive back, which means that he was solid and didn't give Brees a reason to throw in his direction. Then, McCourty came on the field for some insane returns. If McCourty can return the ball this well, Matthew Slater is getting cut.
5 More Stars and 5 Burnouts after the Jump!
6) Gerard Warren - Here's an older fella. He was on the field early on and provided solid pressure against Drew Brees, but also was stout against the run. On one passing play, a receiver had the ball 4 yards down field and as soon as he caught the ball, Warren hit him and knocked him down. That's some hustle and he's definitely earned a roster spot with the fight he brings.
7) Bill O'Brien - He diversified the offensive play calls. Hopefully he can continue this into the regular season, but I was impressed with his play calling. I disliked the plays he drew up for Aaron Hernandez, but I think he wanted to get A Hern the ball often and early.
8) Zoltan Mesko and Stephen Gostkowski - Good-bye Chris Hanson! For all the grief given to Mesko about his inconsistency in the practices, Mesko was on the money punting today. Gostkowski had great leg on the kick-offs and was great on the field goals.
9) Brian Hoyer - Showed phenomenal poise and made me extremely confident that he could succeed if called upon. Very accurate, solid throws and, while he didn't throw a touchdown, the offense was geared towards having the running backs get their red zone carries.
10) Terrence Wheatley - He was crucial on a goal line stop. He was solid in coverage, he was able to knock away the ball, he was an aggressive tackler, but he always had an eye for the man he was covering. Great on special teams. Definitely leap-frogged Jonathan Wilhite, in my opinion.
1) Jonathan Wilhite - He wasn't a starting corner. When he played with the 2nd team, he was burned by Patrick Ramsey. Twice. He's definitely not showing why he deserves a roster spot. I'd be glad to give it to a younger player with more potential. Wilhite had a couple good break-ups, but he was, in my opinion, average at best- and he needs to be at LEAST above average when playing Ramsey and 2nd and 3rd string WRs. He left far too much opportunity to get burned for a touchdown on all of his coverages- and in a bend-don't-break defense, that doesn't work.
2) James Sanders - He missed a few tackles. Sanders isn't a big play maker and earns his keep by being a sound fundamental player. If he doesn't shape up his tackling skills, I can easily see the Patriots cutting/trading his expensive contract in favor of a younger player- especially if Pat Chung continues his solid tackling. Sergio Brown had a solid game and is a name that Sanders must be watching out for.
3) Darnell Jenkins - He's a bubble player at best, but he missed a tackle that allowed the kick return for a touchdown. He allowed a Hoyer pass to get to his chest and it bounced away. Not impressive at all, especially when he's playing the most log-jammed position on the team. I will give him props for his great catch and run for 52 yards, but he didn't show that he deserved a roster spot.
4) 3rd String O-Line - They didn't give Zac Robinson any time to throw the ball and they were unable to create any space. They need to step up, especially with how frequently injuries occur on the Patriots O-Line.
5) Outside Linebackers - Apart from Marques Murrell, the rest of the outside linebackers produced nothing- and even Murrell doesn't look fast enough to keep up with running backs on screen plays. The outside linebackers needed to develop, but no one emerged. Look for a FA pick-up in the next couple weeks.