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Also, for anyone who was interested, I'm going to try and get through most of the Patriots' first preseason game today and post some observations before heading over to Bills training camp. I'll post updates from that as well if people are interested.
Pretty good read. The part about Vollmer made me a little mad though. I'm not sure how you can say he's "solid, but unspectacular" after last year :/
It's looking more and more like safety play is a big issue right now. Writers are speculating that we could be in the market for a safety via trade at this point. If we can unload Merri for a pick and get someone who can be at least average(but play within the scheme), I would be alright with it.
I really didn't see much of that. He's not perfect, but he's very much above average and near the top of the league as far as right tackles go. He got a lot of hype from shutting down Clay Matthews in a prime time game, but I really feel like he deserved it based on his overall level of play.
I'm not arguing he's not above average. I definitely think that.
I didn't watch a lot of other teams last year... so I don't have many RTs to compare him too though.
If I remember correctly, I think I remember him getting owned by C. Wake last year (I know he owned pretty much everyone)
It was his first full season at RT so the sky's the limit for him. I expect him to be even better next year.
I was still pretty surprised he was voted 2nd best RT in the league though tbh
-Boston Red Sox-New England Patriots-Boston Celtics-
Well, I respectfully disagree. Second Team All Pro might have been out of left field a bit, but Football Outsiders had him as the most efficient run blocker at RT last year as well as being right up there in pass protection. Stats for offensive linemen are less than perfect, but you can use them as a piece of the puzzle for sure.
Here are the notes I took during my film study of the first half of the first preseason game - I'll try and watch the second half at some point today:
Defensive personnel to begin the game was (left to right):
DL: Moore - Richard - Love - Cunningham
LB: Guyton - Fletcher - Ninkovich
DB: Butler - Arrington - Chung – Meriweather
First drive (defense): The Patriots began the game in a 4-3 defense, with the defensive line consisting of (left to right) Moore, Richard, Love, and Cunningham. Guyton, Fletcher, and Ninkovich were the starting linebackers, and the defensive backs were Butler, Arrington, Chung, and Meriweather. Darius Butler allowed two catches on three attempts. Dane Fletcher also allowed a completion for a first down. Kyle Arrington was targeted but Gabbert overthrew his receiver due to pressure from Mark Anderson. Anderson rushed from a three-point stance and looked very quick, swimming over Eugene Monroe to reach and hit Gabbert. Monroe had previously given Eric Moore fits. Moore appeared to be a weak link against the run, blowing containment or being driven out of the play on three separate occasions. Jermaine Cunningham sacked Gabbert on the drive but was unblocked by the Jaguars’ offensive line. Jacksonville ended up kicking a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. I was impressed with Gabbert’s poise, he seemed more willing to stand in the pocket than he did in college.
First drive (offense): This didn’t last long. Brian Hoyer started the game, throwing a pass to Aaron Hernandez, which Hernandez proceeded to fumble away after being hit. Because the fumble occurred before returning from a commercial break, it was difficult to tell which other players took the field initially.
Second drive (defense): The Patriots opened the drive in a 3-4 front, with Eric Moore serving as a five-technique, which I thought was interesting. Leigh Bodden and Kade Weston also saw the field for the first time. Gary Guyton was targeted but Gabbert overthrew the pass. On the next play, Kyle Arrington was targeted, but the pass was dropped. The Jaguars kicked another field goal at the end of the drive to take a 6-0 lead.
Second drive (offense): Julian Edelman served as the kick returner. The Patriots offensive line (L-R) was made up of Nate Solder, Thomas Austin, Rich Ohrnberger, Mark LeVoir, and Steve Maneri. They opened with two tight ends, Will Yeatman being one of them. Julian Edelman got open deep early, but was unable to bring in a pass from Brian Hoyer that looked to be just a little bit late. The drive ended in a three-and-out. LeVoir’s position could be because of a lack of healthy bodies at guard, but versatility could help him get the edge over a guy like Maneri.
Third drive (defense): The Patriots opened in a 4-3 and began on a high note, with Dane Fletcher perfectly timing a blitz that gave him a clear path to the running back and resulted in a tackle for loss. Darius Butler allowed another completion for 11 yards on the following play. At that point, Leigh Bodden moved inside to the slot, and Landon Cohen was able to record a sack due to strong coverage and a pressure from Mark Anderson, who rushed from the left end spot rather than the right end spot he appeared at before.
Third drive (offense): The Patriots were able to start this drive with strong field position, and used a lot of different looks to create confusion for Jacksonville’s defense. Stevan Ridley capped off the drive with a score and had another nice run as well. I was impressed with Nate Solder’s athleticism when pulling. Aaron Hernandez looked difficult to cover and had two big catches, but the ball squirted loose at the end of the second one and ball security should be a focus for him in the future. A lot of four-and-five-wide sets on this drive – even Lee Smith lined up off the line of scrimmage at times.
Third drive (defense): Not much to write about here, the Patriots were able to force a quick punt. I was impressed with the overall run defense on the drive, and Dane Fletcher again did a nice job of anticipating the snap count and disrupting the play. On a later snap, he acted like he’d blitz again, but then dropped into coverage.
S. Ridley lined up split wide in a five-WR set along with W. Yeatman, which caused the Jaguars to take a timeout. After that, Hoyer hit Aaron Hernandez for another big gain, and shortly after the second quarter began, Taylor Price made a great leaping catch in the back of the end zone, careful to keep both feet inbounds. He looks to have wrapped up the competition for the fourth wide receiver spot behind Branch, Ochocinco, and Welker.
On the following kickoff, there was some poor coverage and the Jaguars were able to return the ball 84 yards. I noticed Jonathan Wilhite and Chris Koepplin miss tackles. Following that, Jermaine Cunningham blew contain on a run play and allowed a big gain. He has not looked as sharp as he did last year against the run. These two plays led to another field goal by the Jaguars of just 29 yards.
Jeremy Ross returned the kick, and shortly afterwards Brian Hoyer hit Matthew Slater on an incredible deep ball down the sideline that Slater had to outjump former Patriot Terrence Wheatley in order to catch. Long considered to be a strictly special teams player, Slater’s chances of making the final 53 would be greatly improved with a few big offensive plays like that. The drive ended up resulting in a field goal, as Brian Hoyer couldn’t find an open receiver on third down and ended up forcing a throw that could have been intercepted.
On the following drive, Tracy White made a great tackle to pin the Jaguars inside of their own 20, and Darryl Richard sacked Blaine Gabbert thanks to some great coverage. Darius Butler allowed a completion following that, and a neutral zone infraction kept the ball in Jacksonville’s possession. There was one run where I felt the Patriots could have tackled much better. Later on the same drive, Patrick Chung dropped an easy interception on third down. Taylor Price was back to return and fair caught the punt.
Miscellaneous first-half observations:
Nate Solder looked impressive all game…very long frame, looked extremely athletic and quick, and mirrored pass rushers well. Needs some technique work but so far I’ve been impressed with where he’s at after waiting so long to sign his contract. The offensive line as a whole seemed to keep Brian Hoyer clean all night up until the end of the second quarter, when he had to deal with some pressure. He looked pretty accurate and kept his composure throughout the half. Matthew Slater got open more often than expected as a receiver. If he doesn’t recover from his injury quickly, Brandon Tate could find himself out of a job considering the new kickoff rules. Stevan Ridley is very elusive for a guy his size, and caught the ball better than expected. I will be watching to see if he can improve his awareness in pass protection. Lee Smith and Will Yeatman both lined up split out wide more often than I thought they would considering their reputations as inline blocking specialists. Aaron Hernandez was uncoverable all night, he just needs to improve his ball security. If he could block a little bit, it’d be the icing on the cake. Because of Ryan Wendell’s injury, I could see Rich Ohrnberger sneaking onto the final 53 as the team’s backup center. He looked serviceable from what I saw. Thomas Austin could also have a better shot than many people think. I thought Landon Cohen looked disruptive, although he is probably a long shot to make the team. I’d be shocked if Kyle Love was left off the final roster, though. He played the nose very well, and at this point I would feel comfortable saying he’s further along than Ron Brace, who might have to land on the PUP list to avoid getting cut. I think Dane Fletcher should see more playing time this year relative to last season, he looks to be coming along well and made more plays than Gary Guyton, who went virtually unnoticed for the half. Rob Ninkovich had some solid man coverage and I thought he looked reasonably effective as a pass rusher as well. I wouldn’t put money on him tallying many sacks, but he could force quarterbacks to throw sooner than they’d like from time to time. Is this the end for Darius Butler? He was constantly targeted and failed to make plays. He doesn’t contribute much on special teams, so it might be time to cut the cord. If I’m an opposing quarterback, I know where I’m throwing the ball when I see him on the field. Brandon Meriweather seemed to avoid making the boneheaded decisions he’s been criticized for in the past. He played more of a strong safety role, with Patrick Chung manning the deep middle.
Anybody else who thinks that Dane Fletcher will end up as a starter this year (and not a a result of injuries)? I was really impressed with him against the Jags, and I really liked him last season as well. His athleticism and football intelligence will endear him to Belichick. Having Mayo - Spikes - Fletcher with Guyton and Ninko as backups is a really good and versatile group of LBs imo.
Originally posted by ElectricEye
I'm a whiny little kunt. Feel sorry for me as I go masturbate to a picture of my mom dressed as a teletubby.
Yeah, we were talking about it earlier. I could see Fletcher playing a whole lot this year, possibly more than Spikes. What that means about his position on depth chart officially I'm not really sure about, but he should take some time away from Spikes, Guyton, and Ninkovich collectively.
Looks like Will Yeatman is a dark horse to beat out Lee Smith. At 270 pounds, he's both bigger and more athletic than Smith. If he can offer just as much as a blocker, he could be a real find.