PHILADELPHIA – Quick-hit thoughts after the first quarter of the Patriots’ game against the Eagles (New England trails 10-7):
1. The Patriots didn’t come to play from the get-go. Little things like Sterling Moore forgetting he was on the kickoff return unit – and coming on to the field at the last minute – reflect a club that wasn’t ready to go.
2. The deep ball has hurt the Patriots. The 58-yard Vince Young-to-Riley Cooper connection on the Eagles’ opening drive (which culminated in a touchdown) ties for the longest play allowed by the Patriots this season.
3. The second drive for the offense was an impressive touchdown march (14 plays, including penalties), aided by a commitment to the running game. That helped settle things down. Eagles penalties on third downs helped the cause, but credit the mentally tough Patriots for taking the Eagles’ initial punch and responding.
4. Defensively, the Patriots are playing a “lighter” 4-3 with Rob Ninkovich in an end/outside linebacker type role, with Tracy White, Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton at linebacker. This seems aimed at getting more speed on the field – the Eagles are a fast team – but the plan has had mixed results. The Eagles seem content to have Vince Young stay in the pocket and fire it deep, and the Patriots aren’t getting consistent pressure.
5. With Ryan Wendell starting at center today, Patriots took him off the kickoff return unit in the wedge position, and replaced him with Nate Solder.
6. Solder, who played 20 snaps last week as a second/third tight end, was called on early in that role (10 first-quarter snaps). The Eagles are countering with a nickel package against that at times, almost daring the Patriots to run it.
7. In a surprise, Tiquan Underwood came on to the field as a receiver over Taylor Price for the opening play of the Patriots’ second drive. Julian Edelman also came on before Price. Not a great vote of confidence for Price.
8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis took all the running back snaps in the first quarter. He is running hard.
9. Receiver Julian Edelman played one defensive snap as a slot corner and had a nice jam on receiver Chad Hall, then peeled off to register a tackle of Vince Young. Nicely done.