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(Quickie) Breakdown: Giants 18, Patriots 17

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  September 2, 2011 04:15 PM

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Some quick thoughts on last night’s game before we get to our final 53-man projection:

QUARTERBACKS

Not a huge night for the starting offense, but Tom Brady and the passing offense were back to their quicker tempo. Against the Lions, Brady averaged 2.37 seconds before getting rid of the ball or feeling pressure. Against the Giants, it was 2.18. Five of his 11 passes were thrown in under 2 seconds (45.5 percent). Only two throws were over 3 and by design: the pirouette screen, and the 64-yard pass to Matthew Slater off of play-action (one of the few the Patriots ran in this game). Brady threw under 2 seconds just seven times in 26 attempts against the Lions (26.9 percent). … Brady made a smart call to get C Dan Koppen to snap the ball early when TE Aaron Hernandez was uncovered.….Both of the backup quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, contributed to their own struggles. Hoyer should have been aware of the free blitzer from his blind side. And then Mallett had a really rough time. Of the five times he was sacked, you could make the argument that Mallett was at least partly to blame for four of them because he’s back to holding onto the ball for too long, trying to make a play. On the first, he held it 4.40 seconds before feeling pressure. On the next three, he held it for 3.0, 3.44 and 3.25 seconds despite knowing the Giants were blitzing with six players each time. Mallett had two plus throws, but three poor ones. Willing to bet we’ll see a vastly different Mallett the next time we see him next preseason. He’s a work in progress.

RUNNING BACKS

Despite giving up a sack in blitz pickup, we liked what we saw out of Shane Vereen for the first time. Good vision, live legs and an ability to make people miss. He was decent on other blitz pickups.

RECEIVERS

With 5:38 left in the first quarter, Slater showed his inexperience. Everybody else read blitz and cut off their routes, but with the corner 7 yards off, Slater continued down the field instead of stopping and flashing to Brady. The QB threw it short, but Slater didn’t read it. Brady was obviously frustrated. …Slater’s catch-and-run on the long gainer was another eye-opening play. Good guy to have around. … He probably won’t be around for long – too bad he doesn’t have practice squad eligibility – but Tiquan Underwood showed the kind of quickness and explosion the Patriots lack. Brandon Tate was supposed to be that person. …He’s likely headed to the roster but TE Will Yeatman isn’t exactly running towards a spot. He got lucky BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored from 1-yard out in the second quarter because Yeatman allowed his man to take Green-Ellis down. Yeatman later shared in a bad run (those of 1 yard or less).

OFFFENSIVE LINE

The first-team line was much better in this game as they only allowed two hurries (both on LT Matt Light). LG Rich Ohrnberger got some help, but he was better. You really see the potential the Patriots have seen in him because he has quick feet and hits with force, but something is always off. Like when pulled on final play of first quarter and slid off the LB to the ground. He should be able to finish that play off. …The backups had a rough go, with Jonathan Compas leading the way with a knockdown, hurry and a bad run. Nate Solder, after moving to left tackle, allowed a knockdown and sack. Thomas Austin (hurry) played well at center. Mike Berry (hurry) and Corey Woods (shared bad run) competed. The group, including the tight ends, also shared in a bad run.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Very promising signs from the revamped line. Shaun Ellis had two hurries and a sack. Albert Haynesworth had a hurry and bad run. Gerard Warren only tallied a hurry, but he was much more impressive than that against the run. He continues to stand out. Mike Wright had a hurry and bad run. He’s really good when he’s out there. You almost forget. Kyle Love had two bad runs. Landon Cohen and Darryl Richard, in what could be a trade showcase game for both, had hurry, knockdown and a shared bad run (Cohen) and a sack for Richard. Myron Pryor and Markell Carter each had a bad run, and Eric Moore had a half. …On the first play of the game, Haynesworth walked third-string C (playing LG) Chris White for a hurry. … Patriots gave a hint of their likely regular-season alignment on 2nd-and-8 with 8:18 left in the first quarter. They were aligned in a 4-3 under front with Warren shading the center on the "strong side" (Giants were in a balanced 2 TE look, but we'll go with it), Haynesworth playing the 3-technique on the weak side, and Wright playing wide of the TE – leaving the strong-side guard uncovered. Haynesworth is playing the position that made Warren Sapp, among others, a play-making force inside. Haynesworth got inside the LT and took the RB down after a gain of 1 (bad run). A tease of what’s to come. Now, it wasn't a totally square look because WLB Jerod Mayo would normally be lined up behind Haynesworth, but you get the picture. The makings are there. Expect them to flip more on the line and with the LBs once the season starts… First-team defense stunted on the first play of the game and that was it. There were six blitzes.

LINEBACKERS

RB Andre Brown completely blew the blitz pickup on Gary Guyton’s first-quarter sack, which drew a comical look from Carr. Could have been for the referee after Carr’s helmet came off, or Brown…Guyton had a strong game with a half knockdown, forced fumble and the sack. He continued to be better against the run for the most part, but did blow a gap. …Tracy White continued to play well, and Ricky Brown also did some nice things.

SECONDARY

CB Kyle Arrington injured groin or thigh making tackle on opening kickoff. … Patriots showed a double corner blitz with 4:06 left in the first quarter. ….Liked a lot of what we saw out of CB Ras-I Dowling in his first action, especially the 1st-and-goal play with 7:50 left in the first half. Dowling was in man coverage with TE Bear Pascoe. Despite losing him in motion, Dowling showed his speed by recovering to pickup Pascoe, one of two primary options, and then drilling him to keep Carr out of the end zone. Carr should have thrown early to Pascoe, but it was still a great play by Dowling. …S Josh Barrett warrants a longer look. He’s bigger than I thought. Made two open-field tackles. He seems to be more of an in-the-box safety because of his size, so that would make him difficult to pair with Patrick Chung. In this new scheme, the safety opposite Chung will be asked to cover a lot. …Sergio Brown was up and down against the pass and the run. … Antwaun Molden had a half bad run and pass breakup.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Tate has had a rough couple games returning kicks, but guys like Yeatman have to help him out and block people…. Also not good for Tate: when Giants LS Zak DeOssie tracks you down on a punt return. …Tate’s lack of top-end speed was glaring on the Giants’ fake punt. Vereen blew outside contain on that. Need to force it back inside. Rookie mistake. …Slater had two very nice special teams tackles. … Other than one punt, Zoltan Mesko was outstanding with average hangtime of 4.36 seconds.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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