These DGRs will take a long time since there are new schemes and new players. So I’m posting the defense first. You can read this while I go to work on the offense.
As bad as things looked early on, there is hope. The Patriots came out and overloaded one side. The solution to that is to slide the defense that way and bring over extra help. That didn’t happen. The Pats were able to dominate the point of attack and get their RB up the field. Very simple adjustments can fix this. I don’t know if Bill Davis didn’t want the players making adjustments last night or if the players just did a poor job of it. There was very little pre-snap motion by the defense. They were very vanilla. I could see Davis doing this just so players could get used to the basic scheme in their first real live action.
Once the first play started, things went from bad to worse. Fletcher Cox got manhandled. DeMeco Ryans got out of his gap. Nate Allen missed a tackle. Any of these elements could have made up for the poor alignment and limited the success of the play. Instead it was like a chain reaction of mistakes. “Anything you can do, I can do worse.”
The starters appeared to be in the 3-4 or 4-2-5 Nickel for all their snaps. I think there was some 4-3 Under with the backups (very little though). They definitely played a little 3-3-5 Nickel.
Next week’s game will be critical for really getting a feel for the defense and the players. Coaches now have tape to evaluate. They can fix scheme and player issues. They’ll see which players learn well and which don’t. Next week we’ll get a better idea of which players are slow to adjust to the new defense and which guys simply lack the skills for it.
It seems like Davis maybe wanted to run as much 3-4 as possible, hoping to see just how far away the Eagles are. In order to be the kind of 3-4 team that he and Chip Kelly talk about, you need a NT that eats blocks and LBs that make plays. Sopoaga was okay at NT, but I don’t think NE felt he required double teams. And the only starting LB who played well was Connor Barwin. I really hope we play a 1-gap system or do use the 4-3 Under. Those systems fit our personnel better than the traditional 2-gap 3-4.
We do need Antonio Dixon to get his butt on the field. The backup NTs were very up and down.
It really hurts not to have one difference maker in the secondary. We have players who can be good, but it sure would help if we had one guy who was a Pro Bowl type that offenses had to account for. I was encouraged by Patrick Chung. He’s no star, but can be a good Safety. It was hard to judge the CBs with Brady throwing. Covered guys were open.
The biggest disappointment for me was that Fletcher Cox and DeMeco Ryans, two players I was counting on to be good, both had uneven or flat out bad games. I think Cox can be a Pro Bowl player. He’s just got to get comfortable in the new defense. Ryans seemed a bit too fired up. He made sloppy mistakes, which is not the norm for him. I’m hoping this was just an aberration and the duo will be back to their normal form in the next game.
A note about the sloppy tackling…don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is due to Chip Kelly and the new practice style. Andy Reid did a ton of tackling last summer and the preseason opener was filled with poor run defense and sloppy tackling.
COX - Started at RDE. Not a good showing. Took on double-team on first snap. Got into LT and the TE hit Fletch from the side. Fletch went to the ground and that left a big hole in the defense. Fletch has to know that TE might down block. Must be prepared for that. Got moved off the ball by double-team on 3rd/1. Must anchor better. Almost got a sack on pass play to open the 2nd series. Ced drove Brady his way. Played DT in some Nickel looks. Didn’t get much push up the middle.
SOPOAGA - The coaches did something interesting with him. They had Sope lining up half a yard or so off the ball. That is like the old Flex Defense that Tom Landry ran. Sope got single-blocked mostly. Won those battles, but not in such a decisive way that it affected the outcome of plays. Really clogged the inside on the 3rd play. Got free of his blocker and got in on the stuff of the RB.
THORNTON - Most runs went away from him early on. Had 1st/GL run come at him and got driven off the ball several yards. Got good push on pass play to open the 2nd series and drove Brady back toward Cox. Lined up at RDT in Nickel and got some push up the middle.
CURRY - Very good game. Played with the #2 D. Lined up at LDT in the Nickel and exploded into the backfield in the early 2nd Qtr. Blew up a screen pass and forced an incompletion. Lined up as 3-tech on run play and got penetration. Struggled at DT when the Pats ran at him. Didn’t anchor well. Exploded off the ball and pressured the QB into an incompletion n 3rd down pass in the mid-2nd Qtr. That was from LDT. Used a hard rip move to get free to the inside of the RG. Lined up at LDE and used hard inside move to flush Tebow to LB. Tebow tried to stop and Curry sacked him. Chased down a screen pass to end the 1st half. Great hustle.
GEATHERS - Played LDE in #2 D. Moved to RDT in Nickel. Pad level is an issue, as you might guess with a 6-8 guy. Got some inside push on pass play, but looked awkward. Body got out over his feet, negating some of his power. Also played some NT. Got some penetration on a pass play. Lined up at DT in the Nickel and got some pressure. Unfortunately that came on a screen pass and him getting upfield didn’t hurt the play at all. Did get the QB’s attention.
LOGAN - Played some LDE with the #2 D. Got pressure on some pass plays. Good motor. Chased down a screen pass from behind and made the stop. NT to start the 2nd half. Shed block on opening play and stuffed RB. Had 1/2 sack in the early 3rd. Got free up the field and got to Tebow as McCoy was trying to bring him down. Showed good potential. Moved well.
SQUARE - Played some RDE with the #2 D. Also played some DT and NT. Odd player. Didn’t get much push or show anything special in terms of quickness, but was able to get off blocks and be somewhat disruptive. Helped get a good hit on QB when blitzer came free up the middle and Square had looped wide. Got in on sack of QB late in the half. Again got free by looping wide. Didn’t show physical gifts, but knows how to play. Smart, polished player. Up and down as NT. Can’t anchor. Effective when he’s shooting gaps or on the move. You can see why coaches like him, but definitely has limitations.
REMINGTON - Came in at RDE in the mid-3rd. Tebow ran lots of read-option when Kruger came in. Remington went hard after the RB each time. Not sure if this is what the coaches wanted or just his instincts. Also played some NT.
KING - Played some LDE in the early 3rd. Got sealed to the inside and Blount ran wide on that play. Moved to NT late in the game. Showed some promise. Played with good leverage and uses his arms to get into the C and control him. Problem is that he struggled to anchor vs double teams.
KRUGER - Came into the game in the late 3rd at RDE. Helped blow up one of Tebow’s option plays on his first snap. Read the play and forced Tebow to move back to the middle, which led to a TFL. Also played some LDE. Disrupted a 4th Qtr option play with penetration. Had a chance for TFL, but couldn’t make a clean stop. Needs time to develop.
D WALKER - Played LDE in the late 3rd. Tried an inside angle to pursue Tebow, which is a bad idea, and let him roll outside with no pressure and lots of time to throw. Can’t lose contain like that.
COLE - ROLB. Was moving a bit on early run plays. Sometimes out wide, other times tighter to the formation as the Pats experimented with 2 TE bunch sets. Trent played the run from the outside, but NE ran inside of him. You could tell he’s still getting used to the new spot and all that entails. Lined up at RDE in the GL defense. NE ran at him and was able to get a clean seal and run toward his area. TD. I don’t think Trent was supposed to make that play, but getting sealed like that didn’t help. Dropped into coverage vs slot receiver to open the 2nd series. Did okay initially, but then got lost. Pressure forced throwaway. Tried to jump into the passing lane and swat away a WR screen, but couldn’t get to the ball. Lot of learning left to do.
BARWIN - Starting SAM. Good game. Did a great job on the 3rd play. Took on the block of the TE and read the run play. Saw the ball go inside. Shed his block and helped Sopoaga make the stuff at the LOS. Did a good job vs 1st/GL run that came to his side. Kept contain initially, then got off the block and tackled the RB. Played DE in some Nickel sets. Got some pressure when rushing as OLB. Not enough to move Brady off his spot, though.
GRAHAM - Backup LOLB. Did an excellent job of crashing down the LOS on inside run play. Didn’t make the stop, but helped clog the middle. Beat block of the TE to get good pressure on Mallet in late 1st Qtr. Showed good burst off the edge vs the pass. Did a good job of rushing the passer, overall. Read a bootleg and stayed wide to force the QB to dump the ball off. Looped to the inside on a stunt and knocked the crap out of Mallet. Did an awful job on Blount’s long run. Was unblocked on the backside and had one job – keep contain. As he got closer to the scrum, took a bad angle and gave up contain. That allowed Blount to go backside. Graham turned and chased, but somehow lost sight of Blount and it was almost comical when Graham ran by him as Blount headed up the field. Ugh. Drove the RT back into Tebow’s face on pass play late in the half. Played in a Joker role in 3-3-5 look late in the half and was downfield in coverage. Played well aside from his one huge mistake. And that mistake can’t be blamed on the 3-4. Just bad D by Graham.
HUNT - Backup ROLB. Also played RDE in some Nickel looks. Fast off the edge. Hustled out wide on WR screen and forced a fumble, but the Pats got it back. Dropped into coverage from RDE on a zone blitz and got out to the WR. Was there to make the tackle, but the guy dropped the ball. Bit on run fake to the inside in the early 3rd and the RB went wide, where Hunt had been. That got the Pats down to the 1. Beat the block of the TE in the late 3rd and flushed Tebow out wide.
McCOY - Good game. Played some RDE in the Nickel. Got good push on a 3rd down pass in the mid-2nd Qtr. Got pressure on a few plays as pass rusher from RDE. Looked quicker, more athletic than I expected. Shared sack with Logan on 3rd Qtr play. Was unblocked (sucker play), but McCoy showed pretty good discipline and was there to get to Tebow. Did a solid job in pursuit. Had a sack late in the game. I was impressed by McCoy. He’s got legit potential.
E BROWN - LOLB in the 2nd half. Chased down RB after 15-yd gain on screen. Chased down Blount after 10-yd run. Pursued well on a regular basis. Failed to stand out beyond that.
LONG - Played LOLB starting in the late 3rd. Never really caught my eye. Looked natural in coverage.
KENDRICKS - Not an ideal start. Hit Blount square on early 3rd/1 run, but could not make the stop. This is something Kendricks must work on. Gave up a TD to RB Shane Vereen when he was split out wide. Kendricks had good inside-out position and got his hand up, but the pass was literally perfect. Kendricks did everything he could on that play. Was up and down in terms of taking on blockers.
RYANS - Bad game for the veteran. I think he was too fired up. The main culprit on the first long run. Got out of his gap to chase and the RB cut back to a wide-open gap. Over eager to make the first tackle of the year, most likely. Not a good start. Looked to be out of position a couple of times. Finally made a good tackle on slot receiver on the 2nd series.
CHANEY - Made one good tackle of TE after catch over the middle. Got the same TE down a few plays later. Missed tackle on rookie TE in the early 2nd Qtr and gave up an additional 15 yards. Sloppy. Read a screen pass and tried to get through blockers to the RB, but couldn’t get hold of him. Didn’t look like a veteran with solid athletic ability. Looked like a fringe guy.
MATTHEWS - Pretty good game. Played with #2 D. Helped stuff inside run when Pats were backed up at the 1. Had solid coverage of RB in the flat on 3rd down pass. Ball was dropped, but Casey was there. Would have been a good test to see if he could make a clean tackle out in space. Stuffed inside run in early 2nd Qtr. Had happy feet on the play, but stayed in position until he saw the RB and then attacked him. Had a chance for a TFL in the mid-2nd Qtr, but was caught flat-footed. The RB got around him. Casey did make the tackle, but after giving up 5 yds. That wasn’t a game to get overly excited about, but showed some signs of life. Needs to build on it this week.
ACHO - #3 ILBs. Good game. First play was the long run by Blount. Acho was playside and got upfield. He took on a blocker in the backfield and forced Blount to reverse his direction. Acho then pursued, but missed with a diving tackle attempt. Blitzed the A-gap late in the 1st half and got a big hit on QB Ryan Mallet. That was the hit that knocked him out of the game. Had good coverage of RB in the flat. Tebow pass was off the mark. Limited RB to short gain in the early 3rd Qtr. Play was to other side. Acho slid left and stuffed it. Shed block of TE and tackled Tebow on designed QB run. Gave up about 4 yds. Stuffed RB at the LOS when the guy tried to use a spin move. Totally bit on a read-option play and left his gap to chase the RB. Tebow ran through there for a good gain. Acho blitzed a lot. I assume this was by design.
KNOTT - #3 ILBs. Strong debut. Showed good hustle on Blount’s long run. Got to him at the GL, but couldn’t make the tackle to keep him out of the endzone. Deflected a pass late in the 1st half. Tried to cover TE up the seam late in the half. TE had a step on him, but Tebow made a poor throw. Blitzed late in the half and got in on sack of Tebow. Curry was mainly responsible, but Knott helped. Shot a gap to try and get Blount in the backfield in the early 3rd. Missed him. Tackled RB on inside run in the mid-3rd, but wasn’t clean stop. Got in on TFL in the late 3rd. Moved around a blocker and got into the backfield to help Wolff stuff a RB. Love the result. Not so keen on Jake going around blockers. Bad habit from college. Got TFL in the late 3rd. Kruger blew up the play and Jake was there to put Tebow down for a short loss. Blitzed up the middle on the next play and hit Tebow as he threw. Pass fell incomplete. Opened the 4th Qtr by shooting a gap and tackling the RB for a short gain. Read a screen pass late in the game and got on the RB so the QB had to throw the ball away.
ALLEN - Started. Missed tackle on first play that turned good gain into a 62-yd run. Dove at the runner, but could not hold on. Bad attempt. Wasn’t a lack of effort, but was very sloppy. Did better on the next play and got in on the tackle. Helped to make the stop on 1st/GL run play. Fought blocker to hold his ground. Stayed on the field with the #2 D. That’s not a reward, but it is an interesting move. Were the coaches wanting to see more of him? Are the coaches just that down on the other players? There was mis-communication on a pass play and it looked like Allen should have stuck with a receiver, who got wide open. Could have been someone else’s fault. Just a guess on my part. Nate had him initially and then released him, but the other S was already occupied. Came up and delivered a solid hit on Edelman. Got flagged initially, but they picked it up. Must play better.
CHUNG - Good game. Was versatile, aggressive and active. Came up quickly in run support on the 3rd play of the game. Helped stuff RB at the LOS. Tackled slot receiver after short catch. Came up quickly after throw to WR on the outside. Helped make that stop. Came up quickly vs WR screen and helped to disrupt that play. Played in the slot in the 2nd Qtr. Did a solid job. I didn’t get a feel for his deep cover skills, but liked his tackling and showed potential as a slot cover guy.
PHILLIPS - Played in the #2 D. Lined up over slot receiver on pass play. Kept the guy in front of him, but ball went elsewhere. Helped blow up a play at the LOS by getting into the mix quickly. Would be so huge if he could stay healthy and start. Saw him chase Blount on a long run. Didn’t make up ground like I expected. Did I underrate Blount’s speed or is Phillips that slow? I’d love to see Phillips start over Nate Allen so we can get a better feel for him.
WOLFF - Solid debut. Played in the 3rd Qtr. Came up quickly vs the run on opening play. Welcome to the NFL moment came when he tried to tackle Tebow on 3rd down run. Tebow ran right through that. Earl hasn’t faced many 245-lb QBs who run hard. Showed good hustle from the backside as he chased down Blount and tackled him just short of the GL. Came down into the box on 3rd Qtr run play and got a TFL. Was unblocked, but stayed under control and hit the RB square. Read a pass play well and tried to get into the passing lane to play the ball. The pass was too errant. Future starter. Maybe sooner rather than later.
COLEMAN - Played in the late 2nd Qtr. Had good press coverage vs TE. Tackled Tebow after run on 3rd down. Failed to keep contain on a run to his side when he was up near the LOS in the early 3rd. WR made a good block on him. Coleman didn’t aggressively engage the blocker initially. Kurt was trying to read the play. I think the coaches will stress to him to take on that blocker and play the correct spot. If the play goes away, then worry about pursuit. Did a good job of coming up quickly vs Tebow on play where he got flushed. Wasn’t able to hit him or sack him before Tebow got the pass off. There is a lot to like about Kurt, but his physical limitations can’t be ignored.
SIMS - Got into the game in the 4th Qtr.
ANDERSON – Didn’t play until the 4th Qtr. Came out and played like his hair was on fire. Flew around the field. Has some physical limitations, but you can never question his toughness or his energy.
FLETCHER - Did a great job of chasing down RB from behind to prevent a TD on the long play to start the game. Came in and made the tackle on the 2nd run play. Good effort. Wrap-up tackler. Had outstanding coverage on 3rd/4 and still got beaten for 5 yd gain. Pressed and was all over the WR. Brady made a perfect throw. Ugh. Had good coverage on Dobson on downfield throw, but Brady made another terrific throw to move the chains. Solid start.
WILLIAMS - DNP
HUGHES - Surprised as the other starting CB. Gave up a short completion on a crossing route. Gave up completion/1st D to #17 in early 2nd Qtr. Coverage was solid. Made the tackle. Tackled the TE on the play where Chaney missed him. Didn’t stand out, good or bad.
BOYKIN - Played slot with the 1′s. Moved outside with the 2′s. Had outstanding coverage on a throw into the endzone. Got in the receiver’s hip pocket and rode him wide. That gave the QB very little room to work with. Legally hindered the WR getting down the field and the pass was about a yard out in front. On the next snap he had pretty good coverage from the slot against a crossing route.
MARSH - Played in the 3rd Qtr. Helped create a sack. NE ran a bootleg play and Tebow wanted to hit a TE on the backside. Guy was wide open, but moving toward Marsh, who could have jumped the pass or leveled the TE. Tebow held the ball and got sacked. Gave up completion to his side in the late 3rd. Broke up a 4th Qtr pass. Had solid coverage down the right sideline. Terrible throw by Tebow. Marsh had a chance for INT, but couldn’t hold on. Didn’t play well, but wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.
POYER - Quiet game.
WHITLEY - Had tight downfield coverage along the left sideline on play where Tebow had lots of time. Ball was incomplete. I was hoping to see more of him.