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Patriots vs. Saints: Fan Notes from the Preseason

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A debate I have been having with myself over the last 48 hours or so is whether it's more pathetic to cancel plans on a Saturday night so you can stay in and watch a Week 2 preseason game or to DVR the game and then turn your phone off and avoid all forms of media on the off-chance you might accidentally hear about the score and all the excitement of watching a recorded Week 2 preseason game will suddenly evaporate. I personally opted for door number two this past weekend, but I'm not sure that's really any better.

What was better, however, was New England's overall performance. Good strides were made all across the roster, beginning with the backup quarterback and trickling down to the bubble guys. We're all getting ourselves back into football shape, including me, and so hopefully you'll all cut me a little slack over these completely useless observations.

  • The offensive line did look better - but it's still a question mark. I'd mention how it isn't a big deal at this point, and it isn't - but thinking back to last season and the state of the O-line, there is for sure reason for pessimism.
  • Once again Brady on the field for all of 45 seconds before calling it a day - 2 for 5 for 13 yards. The highlight of Tommy B's preseason so far has been him sprinting off the field pissed after Hoo-man dropped the first third down attempt of the day. And to be honest, that might have been my favorite moment of 2015 so far.
  • On New Orleans' first possession, Mark Ingram ran a wheel route against Jamie Collins and connected with Drew Brees for a 29 yard gain. I know I've seen Collins get burned by that wheel route once or twice before, I just can't for the life of me remember where...
  • I also feel like I've seen a Patriots defense that gives up yards at will between the 20s and stiffens up in the red zone. - but again, can't remember where.
  • Then there's Jonathan Freeny blowing his coverage and giving up easy yards. Definitely haven't seen that before.
  • I would advise everyone to read into Devin McCourty lining up at corner to start the game as much as you should all read into the plane breakup. He's lining up at safety to start the season. He's one of the premier free safeties in the game, and the Patriots were undoubtedly trying out some different bodies at corner while the games still don't matter.
  • I actually like Andy Hart and Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly; they generally have some solid analysis and stay on top of their information. But that said, watching Hart standing in front of a camera taking questions reminds me quite a bit of Ricky Bobby.
  • Malcolm Butler has been tackling like an absolute animal this preseason. Although, you never really want to notice how well a defensive player is tackling, as it means the ball is moving well.
  • Jabaal Sheard really excels at maintaining the edge and then crashing to the middle when the run comes to the inside.
  • Not the best start for the Patriots - 3 and out, New Orleans score, 3 and out, New Orleans score, 3 and out, New Orleans score. Thank Tebow this was a preseason game and nobody saw it. Otherwise, there would be an ESPN special, a CNN breaking news report, three full novels worth of articles, and a roundtable discussion about how Tommy B's body language on the bench was surefire proof that he was losing this team and how his off-field issues are clearly causing a distraction as the "Tom Brady's window is closing" rhetoric spews forth like that brown bagged meat that Taco Bell uses late at night when everyone is too hydrated to know what they're eating.
  • Now I feel like Taco Bell. Dammit.
  • Last week I mentioned how Jimmy G hasn't really found the middle of the field just yet. He hits his underneath receivers and knows how to throw a great deep ball, but you don't see him throwing the 8 and 10 yard routes. That changed this week; he found the slant and hook routes.
  • A number of Garoppolo's first downs came from throwing the ball in a receiver's general direction and drawing a pass interference call. That's all well and good, but I say Jimmy G should be modeling his quarterbacking after Tom Brady, not Joe Flacco.
  • Ghost has a leg on him - 57 yard FG attempt was just wide, but it had the distance and about 8 yards.
  • New England's second to last drive of the first half seemed to be designed specifically for the offensive line; different running looks that require multiple blocking adjustments, pass and run alternated to ensure the line was aware of the difference in scheme
  • Logan Ryan is not a good deep ball corner. He actually has a nice skillset, but he seems better suited for the slot. All it takes is for an outside receiver to cut to the inside and go, and Ryan gets burned.
  • Really liked Garoppolo's two minute offense. Christian Fauria, in between trying to fix the shirt that he buttoned up wrong and untangling himself from his microphone cord, made a comment about how it wasn't going to be his best performance - but in my opinion the last drive of the half was his most impressive. He showed good poise, solid awareness, and efficient clock management.
  • Who did not have efficient clock management, however, was the referees. If I wanted to feel like one minute lasted for half an hour, I'd go watch a Real Housewives episode.
  • I'd actually argue that Saturday night was Jimmy G's best day as a pro. Stat line aside- 28 of 33 for 269 yards, one TD, and one pick - he seemed at his most comfortable in the pocket and felt in command of the offense.
  • That said - this is the Saints we're talking about here. An already thin secondary, and Garoppolo was going up against their backups. So it's important to temper expectations.
  • How about Jimmy G with a crazy scramble and a TD to close out the half? I think that's the kind of play that gets you a "good job finishing, but you need to be smarter with your decisions there" kind of pat on the helmet.
  • I feel like you can tell exactly what kind of day LeGarrette Blount is going to have based on the first five carries he gets. If he goes nowhere on those carries, he isn't going to get anything on the day.
  • What am I basing that off of? Nothing, that's what.
  • Why can't James Morris's first name be Zack? So many wasted jokes...
  • Crazy how well Jimmy G plays in a Boyce-free zone, isn't it?
  • One of the areas where I criticized Garoppolo last week was his ineffective sell of the playaction. He seems to have been working on that over these past few days, as he's extending the ball more and drawing it back to his body much more smoothly. A few of his completions in the third quarter came off well-sold playaction passes.
  • It looks like James White is making a point to ensure one of my offseason studs, Travaris Cadet, never even gets the chance to show his stuff. Absolutely loved his touchdown run.
  • Jimmy G's pick was the Bradyest he has looked so far in his brief tenure with the team. Felt pressure, stepped off balance, released off his back foot and overthrew his intended receiver. I always say you can see a Brady pick coming from the moment he releases, and that was absolutely true with Garoppolo there.
  • Still a lot to be happy about here. In a game that was primarily all about the depth guys, lots of reason for optimism. The upcoming game against Carolina is likely going to be the first time we get a good look at the bulk of the starters, so this was a lot of guys taking advantage of opportunities. I think we'll know a lot more about the state of the back half of this roster by this time next week.