Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Jaguars and offering some second half observations:
1) In his first NFL game, QB Ryan Mallett was eased into playing in the Patriots' offense. The passing plays on his first drive were limited mostly to short dropbacks with quick reads, including a couple of passes to TE Will Yeatman in the end zone, as well as a fourth-and-3 conversion to WR Buddy Farnham. His throws were on-target and the pass protection was solid, but the plays appeared to be well-scripted to build up Mallett's confidence and comfort in operating the offense.
2) While LT Nate Solder's block helped to spring RB Stevan Ridley on his first touchdown run in the first quarter, it was a veteran, FB Sammy Morris, who led the charge against LDE Larry Hart. However, Ridley still had to fight past a stubborn Hart, displaying much-needed persistence in staying on his feet and spinning out of the pile and into the end zone.
3) Ridley scored his third touchdown of the night on a 16-yard pass, taking advantage of Jaguars LB Kyle Bosworth getting caught in traffic in the middle of the field. The play wasn't a positive for Solder though, as he misjudged the depth of Mallett in the backfield, opting to let RDE Aaron Morgan rush himself wide, only to have Morgan fall into Mallett after the throw. That's the sort of blindside hit you don't want to see happen with Tom Brady at quarterback.
4) The Patriots loosened the leash on Mallett a bit early in the fourth quarter, putting him in a shotgun, spread formation while working outside of the huddle. Mallett delivered by firing a well-placed strike to WR Taylor Price on an intermediate crossing pattern, threading the needle as Price darted between a few different defenders. Mallett's arm strength is unquestioned, but it is accuracy like this that will allow him to succeed in the New England offense.
Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Jaguars and offering some second quarter observations: