The Patriot second preseason game went much smoother than the first. While Bill Belichick wasn't pleased with every aspect of the operation, it's safe to say he found more than the "38 seconds of good football" his team put forth in the first half of the opener in Thursday's 37-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The defense was stout from the start, forcing a pair of three-and-outs to open the game while the offense marched quickly downfield for a touchdown in Tom Brady's first appearance of the summer.
Brady was sharp in completing 19 of 26 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns while James White chipped in with 91 yards from scrimmage. On defense, the front harassed the Eagles quarterbacks to the tune of eight sacks while forcing a pair of turnovers, one of which was returned for touchdown by Ja'Whaun Bentley.
But we already knew what the likes of Brady & Co. were capable of so we'll stick to the newcomers and other young players this week. With so many positive signs to choose from against the Eagles, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question asks: Which newcomer stood out the most in the win over the Eagles?
Paul Perillo says...
We were presented with this same question last week and I picked the same player, which means the rookie is doing exactly what Bill Belichick wants to see in stacking good performances together.
Bentley looks much more athletic than he was advertised and his ability to run sideline to sideline to make plays has been apparent in the early going. Against the Eagles he was shooting gaps in the run game, blitzing to create pressure on the passer and worked well in coverage underneath against running backs. He stuck with Wendell Smallwood in the first series to force an incomplete pass, and later broke up a potential touchdown pass in the end zone.
His 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown was just icing on the cake as his strong play in the middle was much more impressive and potentially important to the Patriots defense this season. I like what I've seen from the rookie thus far.
Andy Hart says...
When Patterson arrived via trade in the spring I felt he might be able to add something to the kick return game. I thought so little of him as a receiver that I wasn't sure he would even make the team let alone contribute on offense.
But injuries have created an opportunity and Patterson is taking advantage of it. He's been solid from Day 1 of training camp, showing good hands and the ability to make difficult catches in traffic. Against the Eagles he made tacklers miss and found a way to make plays when given the chance.
Patterson finished with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Twice he took quick screens and immediately created excitement by making defenders look silly. His athleticism was apparent when he shot down the sideline for a big play that might have been bigger had he not barely stepped out of bounds, and then he abused cornerback Sidney Jones on a 10-yard touchdown a little later.
The Patriots will find ways to get the ball in Patterson's hands this season and I'm excited to see what he can do.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.