On a beautiful August Monday night I was able to make it out to Gillette for some extra sloppy preseason action. Here are some notes on what turned out to be a mess of a game where thankfully no actual human beings were injured.
Sloppy Play All Around If you were also thinking that the game was dragging on like a Tim Wakefield Red Sox start, you can partially thank the Eagles. The birds amassed a whopping 16 penalties for 131 yards. That included 2 illegal substitutions on special teams. What I didn’t like one bit were the 4 personal fouls the Eagle’s defense committed. After Vick left the game the Eagle’s D was making a special effort to hit the Patriots QB’s hard and late. I have no way of knowing if there was a real connection but after a few late hits you have to start asking questions.
Get Em A Body Bag: I missed a chunk of the first quarter trying to get into the goddamn stadium (because again, the highway department should be drawn and quartered in Copley Square). I sit down and the first play I see is #96 Jermaine Cunningham planting Michael Vick who quickly exited the game. Here’s the video in case you either missed it or want to enjoy it forever.
It was a clean hit by Cunningham and it got a nice loud “GET EM A BODY BAAAAG!” out of me. It’s messed up to celebrate a player’s injury and I never ever condone it (Jets fans), but Mike Vick chiseled himself out an exception to the rule.
Deion Branch Isn’t Going Anywhere (So STFU) Former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch had 704 yards and 5 TDs last year with Tom Brady and for whatever reason fans and journalists have been trying to come up with a reason to get rid of him ever since. Branch was not only the lone offensive bright spot last night, but he looked like he was in mid-season form. He came up with 3 catches for 51 yards from one of the worst backup QB tandems I’ve seen in a while. Face the facts. Deion is a true professional, an expert route runner that can’t just be replaced, and has better chemistry with Brady than any receiver the Pats have ever had. He stays.
Is There Anything Uglier Than the Super Bowl Jerseys? If you happen to come across someone wearing one of those awful pale blue Patriots jerseys with the opaque grid on them, I’m sorry. They’re hideous. But if you’re wondering what they are they were special edition Super Bowl XLVI alternate jerseys. Why anyone would still want to commemorate a Super Bowl the Pats lost is a good question. Why Reebok thought this silly grid design was a worthwhile idea is also a good question. The prices one them were understandably slashed early on in the offseason. So if you’re looking at someone wearing one of these disgusting baby blue rags odds are you’re looking at a cheapskate who didn’t want to pony up $75 for Welker threads, or somebody with just seriously bad tastes in jerseys.
Health Concerns… In the Stands: While I was pretty concerned about the health of Hoyer and Mallet behind a patchwork offensive line, I was a little more concerned about the guy a few seats down from me who was legit fat enough to break his own seat. He wasn’t even doing anything when the seat just snapped on him. It was a season ticket seat too. Now he doesn’t even have a place to sit this season. About 10 minutes later I saw a couple in front of me grab a half empty leftover bottle of water left behind by strangers and drink it. They shrugged it off like “well if they’re not coming back…” I know water is $90 at Gillette but think about your health.
The First String(ish) Defense Still Doesn’t Suck With Mayo, McCourty, and Wilfork all hanging out on the sidelines for the game the rest of the defense played well against what was essentially the Eagle’s starting offense. The 1st quarter Pats defense allowed only 2 first downs and let the Eagles offense eat a combined 4:48 of clock on 2 failed drives. Rookie Donta Hightower was busy calling plays in Mayo’s absence further supporting theories that he is as NFL ready as they come. Brandon Spikes looks to have picked up where he left off last season ready to take some heads off.
Rookies Continue To Impress Ebner’s INT is no secret now. The Ohio State special teams standout and Mike Vrabel recommendation is making a legit push to play safety this year. The pick was off a crappy throw from Nick Foles, but the extension he made was no joke. We also finally got to see what Jake Bequette could do coming off the edge and I liked it. He was putting pressure on consistently and unfortunately got tagged with a B.S. late hit penalty.
photo source: getty images