The New England Patriots defeated the New Orleans Saints with a final score of 34-22. Here are our immediate thoughts and takeaways.
Jimmy Garoppolo is better than Jacoby Brissett
This should go without saying, but some might wonder. Garoppolo made faster decisions and, after a slow first drive or two, found his rhythm and really moved the ball without much help on offense. Brissett still needs to work on his timing and his short-ball accuracy needs improvement. The coaching staff used a lot of misdirection to buy Brissett time in the pocket and allowed him to use his exceptional mobility.
The wide receiver position is a chasm
Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Keshawn Martin didn’t play. Malcolm Mitchell suffered an elbow injury after a phenomenal start. Garoppolo played with Mitchell before his injury, and then Aaron Dobson, who might not even make the team. Let’s not judge the quarterbacks based on the wide receiver position.
I really hope Mitchell is okay. He looked like he could be special out there.
Tight ends Martellus Bennett and A.J. Derby looked great
Bennett was on the receiving end of Garoppolo’s first three completions, while Derby helped move the chains in the second half. Bennett was an active blocker and played a lot of snaps in order to become more comfortable in the offense. He’s going to be a key player moving forward. Derby is competing for a roster spot, but he looked better than Clay Harbor at first glance.
The Patriots have an offensive line!
After last year’s disaster, the Patriots set out to establish a new offensive line. We have one. Left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews, right guard Shaq Mason and, temporarily, right tackle Marcus Cannon led the way on Thursday. Cannon will likely be replaced by Sebastian Vollmer. Thuney and Mason were excellent, while Andrews was okay and later gave way to a couple drives for Bryan Stork. Josh Kline played a drive or two in Mason’s place and was the second-team center.
I wouldn’t be surprised if these eight players, along with Jonathan Cooper and LaAdrian Waddle, all made the roster. Hard to leave any of them out.
Trey Flowers has emerged and will contribute
While Jabaal Sheard was undoubtedly the top edge defender on the field, Trey Flowers made head-turning play after head-turning play. He pressured. He tackled. He scored. He drew flags. He played ahead of Geneo Grissom and Rufus Johnson. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the third player in the edge defender rotation with Sheard and Chris Long.
Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are going to shock the league
They only needed a couple drives, but Collins and Hightower are going to set the league aflame. Collins was a one-man wrecking crew, while Hightower worked consistently behind the scenes to allow Collins the better match-ups. This defense is going to be a beast.