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Preseason Week 4: Patriots vs Giants Notebook

So I finally got around to reviewing the whole game and I've done my homework. I've realized that it takes around an hour to analyze a quarter, so I'll try and publish a quarter a day as the season begins to unfold. The game was a tale of two games as the Patriots owned the first quarter and disappeared for the final three as Tom Brady sat down.

A couple players stood out after having poor games in Detroit, such as Devin McCourty who looked much more aware while on the field. Other made solid appearances as Albert Haynesworth dominated for much of his time on the field. There was a lot to like from the first stringers and a lot to be desired by the back-ups.

Things We Know:

Tom Brady will be looking to Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker a LOT this season.

Matthew Slater will be used as a deep threat at least a couple times during the season.

Stephen Gostkowski is a game changer in kick offs.

Albert Haynesworth is going to have a big season.

Chad Ochocinco will be more quiet early in the season.

The return game on kickoffs is nonexistent.

The Patriots have fantastic depth at defensive tackle.

Things We Don't Know:

Who will rush the passer?

Who will be nickelback?

How will Deion Branch play a part in the offense?

Can the Patriots control the clock with a run game?

How can the offense balance the use of BJGE, Woodhead, Ridley, and Vereen? [hint: Not well if you're a fantasy owner]

Who the actual starters are on defense - Is Bodden a starting cornerback? Where does Fletcher fit? Who plays defensive end? Safeties?

All these questions will be answered once the season is underway. For now, read my notes after the jump!

See the notes after the jump!

Quarter 1:

Albert Haynesworth is getting incredible pressure up the middle- and so is Kyle Love. Love and Haynesworth should rotate with Shaun Ellis and Vince Wilfork to create a solid top 4 of defensive linemen.

Easy touchdown by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Rob Gronkowski with an incredible block to drive the pile forward and Aaron Hernandez showed that he was able to push the pile as well.

Devin McCourty looking good so far. Nice interception. Have to note Gary Guyton playing ILB. Does this mean he's now behind Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes at ILB in the 4-3?

Pat Chung's making plays and is looking good. He has a nose for the ball and for stuffing the play. He's the play maker needed in the safety group.

Chad Ochocinco with a nice reception. He runs fantastic routes, but he doesn't have the wiggle of Deion Branch or Wes Welker to get the first down. He can and will pick up some YAC, but I don't think he should be pigeonholed into the same routes as Branch; it doesn't match his skill set.

Matthew Slater is taking reps with the first team.

Rich Ohrnberger with a couple nice blocks on the line and with a solid pull block to seal the run. Looks to be the top interior lineman back-up.

Brady with a couple incompletions on the drive. One was swatted at the line, one was a poor throw to Deion Branch on the sideline.

Stephen Gostkowski appears to be working on his kick offs to deal with the new ball location. It seems that he's been able to control the ball to land in the "returnable" portion of the end zone so the kick off coverage unit can take down the returnman before they reach the 20. This should save a few yards on every kick off and should be highlighted down the road.

McCourty smothers the receiver. great break-up. Negated by a Guyton helmet-to-helmet.

Mike Wright is playing LDE in the 4-3 front. Not getting much push against the Giants' back-ups.

Haynesworth is cutting into the backfield. Wow he looks agile.

Guyton hits the hole too early and gets sealed out of the draw play. ILB doesn't seem like a good fit for Guyton.

Brady with a smooth and easy checkdown to BJGE. BJGE needs to show some hands to stave off Stevan Ridley for playing time.

Slater misreads the play. Brady audibled at the line and Slater acknowledged it, yet he still appeared to run the wrong play. Brady wanted a quick out to Slater and Branch can be seen after the play looking at Slater and telling him that he ran the wrong route for the given audible.

Ocho jammed at the line and doesn't get separation. No play on the Brady overthrow- good placement where only 85 could get the ball.

Ross Ventrone blows the coverage on the punt return and allows the returnman to pick up a huge gain. He tears up the field quickly (not a bad thing), but is caught out of a lane and is burned.

4 minutes left in the 1st quarter and only the DLine is using starters (other than Chung). Shows where the work/camp battles are taking place.

Dowling slips in coverage to allow a gain. Dowling's playing LCB in McCourty's space. Follows that with a nice pass rush to cause a poor throw. Dowling a future challenger for Arrington's spot?

Guyton with the sack, Ninkovich and Wilfork draw the double teams. Forces the field goal. Win for the defense after the big return.

Tate takes a kickoff deep out of the end zone and gets stuffed at the 10. Bad choice. Should have downed it.

Ohrnberger's looking good so far. He does not give way to the defender at all. Stonewalls him.

Hernandez is looking good as well.

Slater with a HUGE pick-up. He's done this every week of the pre-season. No way he doesn't make the final roster.

Patriots end the first quarter on the Giants' 1 yard line.

Three Up:

Rich Ohrnberger - Great blocking at right guard and seems to fit right in the spot.

Devin McCourty - Nice coverage and interception; clean rebound from the Lions game.

Rob Ninkovich - Generating pressure and drawing double teams; his versatility is key in the hybrid defense and he's definitely earning a spot on the field.

Three Down:

Brandon Tate - Slater took his spot in the starting line-up and he had a poor return.

Gary Guyton - Just can't seem to find a position on the field. Behind Mayo, Fletcher and Spikes in the 3-4 at ILB and isn't strong enough for OLB; behind Fletcher and Spikes in the 4-3 at ILB and is behind Ninkovich and Mayo at OLB.

Mike Wright - He's fighting for a spot on the team and just wasn't impressing at DE and he's behind a few players at DT.


Quarter 2:

Ohrnberger shows his strength and pushes the pile on BJGE's touchdown run. Impressive. Slater is brought on to block in the goal line unit.

Gostkowski with another perfect mid-end zone kick and Slater pulls down the returnman at the 15. They've definitely been practicing the kickoff unit.

Eric Moore gets pushed off the block in the 3-4 line-up as the RDE and gets driven into the second level. Needs more sand in his pants to play DE in the 3-4. They tried this at the end of last season and it didn't work too well.

Wright is used at both LDE and RDE in the 3-4 and he doesn't do well against the run. Main reason why other players should be above him in the depth chart. He's a solid pass rusher from the DT position in the 4-3, but he's not good against the run.

Kyle Love with a great stone wall tackle. Very impressive.

Zone defense, either White didn't drop enough from the LB position or Butler dropped too deep. Doesn't matter- Josh Barrett cleaned up after the big completion.

Giants with a big gain on the ground. Aaron Lavarias was the OLB who tried to seal the edge- however, he engaged and spun to the inside and created traffic for all the other LBs and DLs, as well as a couple DBs. As a result, no one was on the outside and the Giants got big yardage. Luckily, the Giants held Butler so the play came back.

Shaun Ellis with some great pressure to force a bad pass.

Guyton and White get sealed out of the run play by the guards. The whole defense was beaten on this play.

Haynesworth is showing a lot of hustle on this drive. A lot of tackles and doing work.

On the flip side, Andre Carter's been quiet this whole game.

Mike Wright with a good drag down from behind on David Carr to prevent a touchdown. Looking the whole play, Dowling does a great job getting the outlet pass and a potential blocker out of the play.

Fumbled snap and the Patriots get the ball. Recovered by Andre Carter.

Hoyer in on offense. Overthrows Tate by a couple steps. Personal opinion: It didn't seem like Tate was in his full stride

Mesko with a high punt which is muffed by the returnman and Guyton takes it to the house. A penalty brings it back and on the second try, Slater makes a great takedown.

Myron Pryor with a great stop against the run.

Antwaun Molden gets picked on for consecutive plays. Beaten both times.

Eric Moore and Tracy White with a great TFL.

Dowling on the outside, Butler in the slot. Both stick their receivers like glue.

Ricky Brown with a solid tackle, Haynesworth with great pressure.

Haynesworth double teamed, Love in contain and Ellis with the sack. Great work by the DL.

Hoyer lacks real arm strength to utilize downfield threats. He either lofts the ball so it's a jump ball or he puts his receiver in danger. That's something Mallett can give him- some of his arm strength.

Three Up:

Albert Haynesworth - He's commanding double teams and he's beating them. Lots of effort and lots of hustle.

Kyle Love - He's a lot of fun to watch. He's powerful, he's quick, and he does his job.

Stephen Gostkowski - His kicks are awesome. He places it just close enough where the returnman wants to bring it out, he puts it high enough so he coverage can get downfield, and he places it perfectly. Saves the defense 5 yards every drive.

Three Down:

Aaron Lavarias - He's a bubble player and he needs to stand out to get a spot, but he's made a couple mistakes that have allowed big gains.

Antwaun Molden - Maybe he gets better as the game goes on, but as of now he's been beaten in his only times on the field.

Ball Control - The Patriots held the ball for 2 minutes in the entire 2nd quarter. The second team offense ran the ball once (Shane Vereen) for -1 yards. Yikes.


Quarter 3:

Awful block by Shane Vereen.

Otherwise quiet drive for the back-ups, apart from the strip sack.

Markell Carter with a nice TFL.

Ricky Brown with a nice tackle.

Butler makes an initially nice stop in front of the first down marker, but doesn't have the strength to pull his man down to the ground and he gets away.

Brown and Shaun Ellis with a nice joint tackle. Ellis has some incredible extension.

Hoyer with another fumble and Vereen makes a nice cover to get the ball taken care of. Hoyer seems to be able to read defenses once he gets to the line, but he definitely needs to improve his post-snap awareness.

Vereen with a nice cut and go.

Vereen gets bowled over in blitz pick-up. He definitely needs a lot of pass protection work.

Ross Ventrone with a nice tackle in the backfield.

Tate with a horrendous return on the punt. Chances for a roster spot continues to dwindle.

Vereen dances in the backfield but manages to get a couple yards. Dangerous and something to watch.

Ryan Mallett with a nice bullet to Tiquan Underwood.

Mallett with another nice pass to Underwood, but he wasn't looking. Great read.

Mallett with a nice velocity toss to Vereen, but was unable to get the first down.

Going for it on 4th down, no chance to convert.

Molden with a nice take-down on the end around.

Molden with a nice PBU.

Landon Cohen with a couple nice high energy plays to get into the back field.

Three Up:

Ricky Brown - Brown seemed to be around the ball at all times and was making tackles all over the field.

Antwaun Molden - Molden was shaky early on, but he definitely looked comfortable in the defense in this quarter.

Shane Vereen [Offensive Weapon] - Vereen showed the damage he could do as a receiver and as a running back.

Three Down:

Brandon Tate - He's done absolutely nothing of value to help his spot and he adds nothing with respect to special teams coverage.

Patriots' Pass Rush - After an exciting beginning of the preseason, the pass rush has become nonexistent.

Shane Vereen [Defensive Weapon] - Vereen's blocking was horrendous. Lots of room for improvement.


4th Quarter:

Alex Silvestro does not give up on the fake punt. He runs as fast as he can down the entire field. Great hustle.

Lee Smith with a solid block for a Vereen run.

Buddy Farnham reminds me of Troy Brown. I hope he makes it back to the practice squad.

Coverage sack on Mallett. Right Guard Mike Berry blows his assignment leaving Steve Maneri to block two players. Game over.

Zoltan Mesko looks good. Really good.

Darryl Richard gets the sack, but Cohen does all the work and draws half the blockers.

James Ihedigbo beaten on the 2 point conversion- he was everywhere except between the hands of the receiver. Didn't turn his head and allowed the completion. It's surprising how many defensive backs the Patriots have that cannot turn their head around while covering a receiver.

Tate with another unimpressive return.

Mallett with a nice pass to Underwood.

Mallett shows off his arm and throws it deep to no one.

Mallett with a good throw that goes right through the arms of Underwood.

Mesko is a super hero and looks incredibly consistent.

Molden beaten on the inside.

Ihedigbo takes a bad angle. Brandon Meriweather looks like he's playing clean-up in safety and doesn't appear to be looking to make any plays.

Ihedigbo with a nice stop. He looks solid in run defense- leaves a lot to be desired in coverage.

Ihedigbo with another nice TFL.

Mallett tipped at the line.

Will Yeatman with a solid catch for the first down on the 4th down pass.

LT Nate Solder and LG Jonathan Compas look good in pass blocking. The entire right side looks awful on a Mallett sack.

Giants blitz and Mallett is sacked again- too many bodies for the number of blockers.

Three Giants get through the line untouched. That's ugly.

Patriots get lucky on the correct 4th down call and get another chance.

Mallett sacked as the Giants rush seven. Tick, tick, tick.

Three Up:

Zoltan Mesko - He looks fantastic and that's a good thing. Hopefully he doesn't need to be used except for holding PATs, but it's nice to know he's there.

Ryan Mallett - He had a solid game playing behind a terrible line. He showed improvement with pass velocity, he was reading the defense and taking what was given to him and he was throwing the ball on a string to the receiver. A couple terrible drops lowered his numbers, but he had a solid outing.

Nate Solder - Solder looked good at Left Tackle. He was much, much better than the players he was facing.

Three Down:

Right Side of the Offensive Line - No, the right guard was not Rich Ohrnberger, but Mike Berry. Steve Maneri had a weak final quarter. They couldn't get anything going against the Giants' back-ups.

James Ihedigbo in Coverage - He looked good against the run. It's clear the Patriots must find a nickel corner because neither Ihedigbo nor Pat Chung can cover as a safety and Kyle Arrington has struggled. Perhaps Sergio Brown or Darius Butler [or Leigh Bodden or Devin McCourty] can step up?

Brandon Meriweather - Meriweather is a starting safety. He was playing against 3rd stringers, yet he did nothing of note. Unlike Solder who dominated the field, Meriweather disappeared. He should have been running the show in the secondary.


Three Unsung Players of the Game:

1. OLB Rob Ninkovich - Ninkovich is going to be extremely important to this defense. In the hybrid looks, Ninkovich adds value as a 4-3 defensive end, a 4-3 outside linebacker, and a 3-4 outside linebacker. He showed off his versatility and showed command of his abilities. He looks ready for a breakout season.

2. RG Rich Ohrnberger - Ohrnberger played the first half at right guard and he looked really good with the first unit. He didn't play the end of the game and he did nothing to leave a bad image in my mind. He looked like he belonged on the field.

3. DT Albert Haynesworth - Haynesworth played DT and NT and looked good while doing it. He was disruptive, he was doing his job, he was watching his lane, and he was letting other players make plays. He looks to be a big player on defense.