After scrimmaging each other this week in practice, the Patriots took to the field against the defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints. With expectations fluctuating amongst analysts and fans, the Pats set out on their quest for their 4th Super Bowl by beating the Saints 27-24 in Foxborough. Here are some thoughts on the game and what it could mean for the Pats season:
Without seeing the first-team unit very much, the Patriots did seem to have much more inclination to run the football. With backs Laurence Maroney and the surprising, but rock-solid BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots may not have the best two-headed monster in the NFL, but it is formidable enough for the Pats to keep defenses honest with the run.
Julian Edelman looked like Wes Welker on the field, as he was consistently bobbing and weaving, while making moves on corners to avoid open field tacklers. With Randy Moss as a deep threat, if the Patriots have two wideouts that teams need to worry about in the short game, the passing attack could be even more deadly than in 2007.
From the rookies, the Patriots were able to get the type of production they were expecting. Aaron Hernandez provides the Pats with the Christian Fauria type as Fauria was a key part in all of the Patriots Super Bowl titles. On defense, Brandon Spikes was always around the ball. Many teams passed on Spikes due to the fact that his 40-times were mediocre, but his ability to plug holes and make plays is a crucial reason why the Patriots selected him in the 2nd round.
The starters were all playing as expected in the opener. Brady went 5/8 with 67 yards, while hooking up with Moss twice for 30. On defense, Jerod Mayo made 5 tackles.
Cause for concern: While the Patriots defense held their own, especially against the first-team offense of the Saints, they only had one sack throughout the game. Over time, this may improve, but if they continue to blitz and not get any type of pressure, the inexperienced secondary may get burned more than wanted.
Impressive players fighting for a job: G Dan Connolly, FS Patrick Chung, WR Brandon Tate, and MLB Tyrone McKenzie.
Overall, taking everything into account, the Pats looked solid in their opener. However, the team knows that winning your preseason opener does not mean you will be Super Bowl Champs. But, expectations in Foxborough are high and if last Thursday was any indication, Rex Ryan might want to hold off on his next guarantee of a ring.