FOXBOROUGH - We'll have much more on tonight's game on Friday afternoon once we're able to watch more closely what transpired.
To be honest, I didn't get to watch much of the second half as I writing.
But here are some thoughts as we put the Patriots' first exhibition game to bed for tonight:
- Was surprised to see there were 16 NFL teams -- more than half of the other 30 teams in the league -- represented in the press box tonight. That seems like a very high number.
- Talked to some of them at halftime to get their thoughts on what jumped out to them about the Patriots, specifically the defense.
- Wrote some of about this for tomorrow's paper, but even though Bill Belichick played it pretty close to the vest in terms of scheme and personnel, the consensus among a half-dozen scouts was that the Patriots are definitely trending towards a traditional 4-3 alignment.
- Most of them thought the Patriots will ultimately be a 4-3 "under" scheme. They showed signs of it against the Jaguars, and itís very adaptable to the Patriotsí personnel. And itís also a hybrid in that itís very similar to a 3-4. Actually, itís very similar to the scheme the Patriots played with Willie McGinest in the ďElephantĒ role. Same with Wade Phillips in Dallas with DeMarcus Ware.
- Belichick referenced that indirectly this week. ďWe won two Super Bowls playing a 4-3. In í01 and [Ď04].Ē
- Jermaine Cunningham seems to be pegged as the pseudo-Elephant for now. He had a sack, but it was just shy of a gift. For this defense to work, heís going to have to win the one-on-ones.
- All this will hash itself out during the season, but it will certainly be fun to watch. Enough Xís and Oís, which Iím probably way off course about.
- Really liked how the Patriots were just letting the four down linemen just get up the field, which is a big departure. That will change a bit when the big bodies get in there, but the Patriots definitely want to be more active and physical up front. Yeah, they got gashed a little against the run early, but that will work itself out.
- The more I see of Brian Hoyer running a team, the more I like it. He just seems very comfortable out there. Obviously a good leader.
- RB Stevan Ridley showed his hard-running style. Really like what heís shown so far in the game and at practice. The more reps the better. A lot of scouts were very impressed by Ridley. Shane Vereen needs to get out there.
- Taylor Price was obviously one of the stars of the game, with five catches for 105 yards and a spectacular TD reception. Heís been the same in practice.
- At first blush, LT Nate Solder and C Rich Ohrnberger seemed to play well on the line. Solder still tends to get a bit high, but itís real early. Canít wait to see Dante Scarnecchia work his magic with him.
- Dane Fletcher (quarterback hit, three tackles for a loss) continues to fly around the field.
- Was underwhelmed by CBs Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington. But I think that was by design of the defense. The Patriots played a lot of Cover 2 and 3.
- Ryan Mallett was also on the minds of the scouts before they got to see him play. Many of those scouts represented teams that were scared off by Mallett off the field. If he continues to toe the line, those teams will be jumping in line to get him again.
- Mallett played well for the most part. He continued his practice bad habit of holding the ball too long on occasion, and you could see Belichick reminding Mallett to remember his internal game clock. He did better after that. Thereís no doubt his can spin it. Mallett was also very attentive and into it on the sidelines.
- Belichick was not happy with the lack of ball security.
- Itís pretty evident Stephen Gostkowskiís injury is behind him after kicks from 46 and 43 yards.