Thankfully it’s only the preseason because the New England Patriots simply underachieved, to say the least, in their opener against the New Orleans Saints.
Granted there were a few bright spots, but overall it was a real sloppy performance for New England all around—even though they escaped with a 7-6 victory.
With that being said, let’s take a look at five things we learned from New England’s preseason opener.
1. New England’s Offensive Line Struggled: With no surprise, New England’s offensive line appeared to be a huge weakness. The team’s starting unit consisted of left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Donald Thomas, center Dan Koppen, right guard Dan Connolly and right tackle Marcus Cannon and they all struggled equally. Quarterback Tom Brady was consistently on the move and was even destroyed on one play which resulted in a lost fumble. If New England has any hope at being an elite offense in 2012, which they’re fully capable of doing, then their offensive line needs to find it’s chemistry and gel together.
2. Despite Consistent Pressure, Tom Brady Was Productive: It’s kind of hard to play at your highest ability when the opposing pass-rush is always in your face, but Tom Brady was able to have a semi-productive day. Brady completed four of his seven passes for 30 yards while being sacked that one time which resulted in a lost fumble. In just a total of 19 snaps, four of seven passing isn’t all that bad.
3. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen Look Like the Real Deal: The offensive line might have struggled pass-blocking, but they sure were able to open up holes for their running backs. Second-year running backs Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen were both able to have productive outings. Vereen was the team’s top rusher as he accumulated 64 yards on 11 carries while Ridley ran for 40 yards on eight carries. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis now a Cincinnati Bengal, seeing Ridley and Vereen perform well is certainly a great sign.
4. Linebacker Dane Fletcher is Likely Done For the Season: This is not the start of a preseason that any player would want. Linebacker Dane Fletcher injured his knee while covering a punt and left the game immediately. According to several reports following the game, Fletcher has a torn ACL—which will likely end his season.
5. Rookie Chandler Jones Shines in Preseason Debut: One of the few bright spots in Thursday night’s game was rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. New England’s first-round pick had an impressive showing and even got Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod talking about him following the game:
“I think he’s going to be a good player in this league. It was a battle out there. I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”