New England Patriots: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2 NE at WAS

Breaking down Patriots offensive snaps

August, 9, 2014
Aug 9
LANDOVER, Md. -- A breakdown of snaps played by offensive players in the New England Patriots' 23-6 preseason opening loss to the Washington Redskins on Thursday night:

Offensive line
LT/LG Jordan Devey -- 56 of 56 (first and second half)
C Dan Connolly -- 29 of 56 (first half)
RG Josh Kline -- 29 of 56 (first half)
LT Nate Solder -- 29 of 56 (first half)
LG Chris Barker -- 27 of 56 (second half)
RT Cameron Fleming -- 27 of 56 (second half)
RG Jon Halapio -- 27 of 56 (second half)
RT Marcus Cannon -- 24 of 56 (first half)
C Ryan Wendell -- 20 of 56 (second half)
C Braxston Cave -- 7 of 56 (second half)
TE/RT Sebastian Vollmer -- 6 of 56 (first half)

Quick-hit thoughts: Valuable reps for Devey, a first-year player from Memphis who spent last season on the practice squad and has been working at tackle, guard and center in training camp. Rookie center Bryan Stork (fourth round, Florida State) has been sidelined since the fifth practice of training camp, as he would normally be in this mix.

Ryan Mallett -- 29 of 56 (first half)
Jimmy Garoppolo -- 27 of 56 (second half)

Quick-hit thoughts: Based on some of his struggles in practice, and limited reps in team drills, Garoppolo exceeded expectations with a solid performance.

Running backs
Jonas Gray -- 19 of 56 (first and second half)
Roy Finch -- 17 of 56 (first and second half)
James White -- 9 of 56 (first half)
James Develin -- 8 of 56 (first half)
Shane Vereen -- 5 of 56 (first half)
Stephen Houston -- 4 of 56 (second half)
Taylor McCuller -- 3 of 56 (second half)
Stevan Ridley -- 3 of 56 (first half)

Quick-hit thoughts: Don't think Gray or Houston will pressure Ridley for "big back" duties. Houston didn't get another snap at running back after losing a fourth-quarter fumble.

Wide receivers
Josh Boyce -- 32 of 56 (first and second half)
Brian Tyms -- 30 of 56 (mostly second half)
Brandon LaFell -- 29 of 56 (first half)
Kenbrell Thompkins -- 29 of 56 (first half)
Wilson Van Hooser -- 21 of 56 (second half)
Derrick Johnson -- 8 of 56 (second half)

Quick-hit thoughts: Gives a nice snapshot of how Boyce appears to be behind both Thompkins and LaFell in the 3-4-5 cluster of receivers behind Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who were rested.

Tight ends
Justin Jones -- 32 of 56
Asa Watson -- 28 of 56

Quick-hit thoughts: Very little pass-catching presence as the Patriots were without their top three players on the depth chart -- Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams.

Belichick, players react to preseason loss

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
LANDOVER, Md. -- Veteran New England Patriots defensive tackle Tommy Kelly in now in his 11th NFL season, so he knows not to overreact to one preseason loss in which many key players were rested. That's why he mostly kept it light following a 23-6 setback to the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

"You can't win them all. It's a preseason game and these games are to work on your fundamentals and get you ready for the regular season," he said. "I don't foresee us having these same problems by the time we get to Miami [in the season-opener]."

Head coach Bill Belichick should find plenty of teaching points from the game.

"I don't think we did very many things the way we wanted to do them tonight," he said. "We weren't good in any phase of the game. We got the ball on the ground and we didn't play very well on defense. We didn't move the ball well and we were in too many long-yardage situations. We were not good enough in the kicking game. Overall, we have a lot of work to do. That is obvious.

"There were a few flashing moments, but not many. We have a lot of work to do and that is all of us -- coaching staff, players, offense, defense, special teams, everybody."

Veteran linebacker James Anderson, in his first season with the Patriots, said tackling and fitting better in the run game will be areas to improve.

"That's something you learn through these games -- what you need to work on, what you need to correct," he said. "We didn't perform well. Whether it's preseason or not, you don't want to perform like that."

Tale of two backup QBs for Patriots

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
LANDOVER, Md. -- Through the first 11 practices of training camp, the New England Patriots' backup quarterback competition had seemed clear cut to many observers. Rocket-armed Ryan Mallett was the No. 2, with rookie Jimmy Garoppolo enduring some rocky moments.

The picture has been altered a bit after the Patriots’ preseason-opening 23-6 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Garoppolo
AP Photo/Richard LipskiRookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the Patriots to their only touchdown on Thursday night.
Mallett played the entire first half, the initial two series against a first-unit defense, and the Patriots’ offense didn’t produce any points. He finished 5 of 12 for 55 yards.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo came on in the second half and provided some of the few fireworks of the night against Washington reserves, his decisiveness and long-ball touch evident in going 9 of 13 for 157 yards and one touchdown.

“I did all right. There is a lot of stuff to improve on. It’s a process,” Garoppolo said, echoing words he’s spoken throughout training camp. “For any rookie quarterback, there’s a lot to learn from. We’ll go watch the tape and go fix those things.”

That process had already begun late Thursday night as Garoppolo huddled at his locker with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

On the field, Garoppolo has developed an early rapport with receiver Brian Tyms (five catches, 119 yards, TD).

“The offense, we struggled at times today, but we were clicking at times, too,” Garoppolo said. “It’s stuff to learn from, it’s a process. We’re trying to take it in stride.”

One highlight for Garoppolo was that Thursday night was the first-ever NFL game he’s attended. He admitted that it took a few plays before he settled in, and part of what made the night special was a notable cheering section in the crowd.

“It was really cool -- parents, brothers, grandpa were all here. They got to see it and I haven’t seen them in a while,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

It wasn’t so great for Mallett, who didn’t receive much help from an offensive line that mostly struggled to keep the pocket clean. Now in his fourth NFL season, this was supposed to be Mallett’s time to shine, especially after NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that he “popped” in joint practices Monday and Tuesday and was an NFL-caliber starting quarterback.

Mallett acknowledged that there were a few throws he’d like to have back Thursday night, which was likely a reference to two low deliveries in the direction of receiver Brandon LaFell. At the same time, he said, “I feel like I did a few positive things.”

His 15-yard strike to LaFell on the opening drive, which would have converted a third-and-8, was near the top of the list. But a holding penalty on left tackle Nate Solder negated the play, and another breakdown up front led to a sack of Mallett on the team’s second drive.

It seemed like Mallett was consistently facing pressure, a result of some shaky play from the first-unit line of Solder at left tackle, Jordan Devey at left guard, Dan Connolly at center, Josh Kline at right guard and Marcus Cannon at right tackle.

Now he might face a different type of pressure -- from Garoppolo, who took a step forward in closing the gap in the backup quarterback competition.

Observation deck: New England Patriots

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
LANDOVER, Md. -- One should always be cautious of reading too much into a preseason game, especially one in which a team rested as many top players as the New England Patriots did in their loss to the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

So let's just stick to the basic fundamentals of football: If you don't block, you usually don't win.

Patriots followers need no reminder of this, as last season's AFC Championship Game was the most recent reminder of what happens when the offensive line doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants was another.

That was the top takeaway from Thursday's Patriots-Redskins preseason opener. The Patriots' offensive line, in transition with a new coach and personnel questions at center and right guard, was a disappointment. It's hard to move the ball and score points when that's the case, especially when two of the notable miscues come from one of the best players, left tackle Nate Solder.

There were breakdowns across the front in basic, no-scheme, one-on-one situations, which will shine a brighter spotlight on what is happening up front in the days to come.

Here are some other thoughts on the Patriots' first game of the year:
  • Second-year defensive tackle Chris Jones left the game in the second quarter after injuring his left ankle. He needed help walking off the field and then slowly walked to the locker room under his own power. The Patriots' depth along the defensive line is already thinned after Sealver Siliga injured his left hand on Tuesday. It is unclear how long Siliga will be out.
  • The Patriots rested several key players, a group including quarterback Tom Brady, receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, left guard Logan Mankins, defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones, linebackers Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Devin McCourty. Here were the starting lineups on offense and defense.
  • One storyline entering the game was how the NFL's point of emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact might affect the physical play of cornerback Brandon Browner. On cue, Browner picked up one penalty in the first half. In the second half, Logan Ryan was among the offenders.
  • Quarterback Ryan Mallett lost the battle of the backup quarterbacks to Washington's Kirk Cousins, but penalties negated a couple of nice plays and Mallett was under pressure throughout. The feeling from here is that the offensive inefficiency was more about losing one-on-one battles up front than on Mallett himself. Mallett played the first half and was sporadic with his accuracy before giving way to Jimmy Garoppolo, who in his debut outperformed Mallett with a quick release, long-ball touch, and decisiveness.
  • While the Patriots lost battles along the offensive line, they didn't win many defensively either. This carried over a theme from joint practices earlier in the week. The Patriots, as previously noted, lost along the line of scrimmage throughout the week in one-on-one situations.