BOSTON (CBS) — That was brutal, it was ugly, and it’s not the kind of football we expect out of the New England Patriots.
But at least it was only preseason game No. 1, and there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“We didn’t do enough things well enough and we have a lot of work to do. That’s obvious,” head coach Bill Belichick said Thursday night following New England’s 23-6 loss to the Washington Redskins in their preseason opener.
The Patriots looked pretty awful as they kicked off their preseason, with very few bright spots from the loss. It’s just one game, and a preseason one at that, but here are the Ups and Downs from Thursday night.
No Pop From Ryan Mallett
With Brady on the bench this was supposed to be Ryan Mallett’s time to shine, either boosting his value on the trade market or in free agency this offseason. But there was no luster on anything he did Thursday night, as he was inconsistent throughout the first half, going 5-for-15 for 55 yards and a sack.
Jimmy Garoppolo looked good during the second half, making matters even worse for Mallett. We were hoping to get a good picture of what Mallett can be going forward, but the picture he painted Thursday night was certainly not a pretty one.
Both Patriots quarterbacks felt the pressure throughout the evening, as the New England linemen struggled with their assignments and lost their 1-on-1 battles. Nate Solder had a tough night, with his holding penalty in the first quarter negating a third-down conversion, and then later missing his man leading to a sack of Mallett.
Bill Belichick mixed and matched his offensive line as Logan Mankins and Ryan Wendell both sat this one out, but it didn’t help.
We’ve been told that the NFL is placing an emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding, but there was a lot of laundry on the field for both sides in this one. The Patriots were flagged nine times for 81 yards, while Washington was hit with 10 penalties for 79 yards.
If you like watching the zebras fumble with their mics and try and figure out who is who, then this was a game for you. If not, well you probably figured it out early enough to switch channels.
Loss Of Chris Jones
The Patriots avoided the injury bug for the most part on Thursday night, but their depth on the defensive line may have taken a hit.
Chris Jones left with just over a minute to go in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. He had six sacks as a rookie last year, and with the Patriots already without Sealver Siliga (hand injury), it could be a big loss. Jones had to be helped off and then limbered slowly to the New England locker room.
The rookie quarterback wasn’t perfect, but he was pretty good in the first NFL game he played in — which also happened to be the first NFL game he’s ever attended.
The second-round pick finished his NFL debut 9-for-13 for 157 yards and a beautiful 26-yard touchdown to Brian Tyms late in the fourth quarter. He showed some good composure in the pocket and had some very nice passes as he led the Patriots to their only scoring drive on the night.
If he keeps playing like this, Garoppolo may overtake Mallett on the depth chart (but after Thursday night, Julian Edelman may overtake Mallett on the QB depth chart).
Wilfork, Kelly Take Field
They played just the first defensive series, but it’s a good step for both veteran lineman who missed most of last season with injuries.
Tyms was the best receiver the Patriots had on Thursday night, hauling in five of the six passes that went his way for 119 yards and a touchdown. He got into a very good groove with Garoppolo in the second half, and his touchdown grab with 1:23 to go was a thing of beauty.
A Butler In The Secondary
Yes, the name Butler in the secondary brings back some very bad memories among Patriots fans, but undrafted corner Malcolm Butler played a pretty good game against the Redskins. The rookie out of West Alabama made some nice plays on the ball in the end zone and showed off some good ball skills.
That’s enough preseason Game 1 analysis. Here’s to hoping the starters see some of the field Friday night against the Eagles.
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