Pats 2nd-quarter review: Mallett dips

August, 8, 2014
Picked-up pieces from film review of the second quarter of the New England Patriots’ 23-6 loss to the Washington Redskins in the preseason opener:

1. Following up on Ryan Mallett, there were five throws in this quarter that were poor – a low delivery to Brandon LaFell on third-and-4 to end the opening drive of the quarter, a low throw to Kenbrell Thompkins that technically wasn’t a play because there was illegal contact down the field, a rushed throw to running back Roy Finch in the right flat that appeared to require a little more patience to let develop, a skipping pass to LaFell to open the final drive of the quarter and an airmailed screen to Finch that had a chance if it was dropped in the bucket. Mallett was better in the first quarter than the second, and he could have been helped more by receiver Josh Boyce on one second-down play when Boyce cut his route directly into where the defender had leverage while Mallett wanted him to take it up the field. Mallett’s best throw was an 11-yard completion to Thompkins on third-and-10. Those throws just weren’t made consistently enough in this quarter.

2. Spoke with veteran linebacker James Anderson after the game about the adjustment of playing in the Patriots’ system, which is significantly different than what he played in Carolina (2006-2012) and Chicago (2013). Known more as a coverage linebacker, Anderson played strong downhill on a first-and-10 run from the 1-yard line, attacking fullback Stephen Campbell. If Anderson is ever called upon to play defense for the Patriots, that type of physical presence will be required, even though it’s not necessarily his forte. He did it again later in the quarter in limiting Evan Royster to a 2-yard rush.

3. Second-year Patriots linebacker Steve Beauharnais had some trouble in the play-action passing game, getting sucked in and then not being able to drop deep enough, thus leaving a wide window in which Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins could throw. A 23-yard Cousins-to-Aldrick Robinson completion that helped Washington dig out from deep in its own territory stood out in that regard.

4. Tackling from the safeties in the run game showed up as a positive of sorts – first with Patrick Chung in the opening quarter and then Tavon Wilson in the second. Chung and Wilson got the longer looks at safety, with Duron Harmon playing more of a complementary role.

5. Best pressure of the game in the first half was provided by second-year defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who pushed aside right guard Spencer Long to hurry Cousins into a throw after the two-minute warning. Vellano wins with technique and effort and brings his lunch pail to work every day.

6. Two more passes defended in the red zone for undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, who was arguably the Patriots’ best player in the game. He just had the one miscue, tackling receiver Ryan Grant out of bounds. Liked the comment from sideline television analyst Matt Chatham: “One of the great things about Butler so far is his patience. He doesn’t look panicked. He doesn’t look overwhelmed by the guy in front of him.”

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter



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