FOXBOROUGH — A few quick thoughts on the game before we call it a night:
Line will be fine: Yes, the Patriots’ offensive line struggled mightily again but the opinion here hasn’t changed that long-term, they will be fine. The obvious concerns reside with LT Nate Solder and RT Marcus Cannon. Solder is having a lot of technique issues but those can be cleaned up. He’s letting rushers get into his chest, which negates his length advantage. Solder needs to strike the proper balance between extending his arms and not getting off balance. I don’t understand why he’s not getting back into a proper stance. Solder’s trying to maul the rusher instead of directing him with his length. He can still get there, but if anybody was expecting to him to be a Pro Bowl LT this year, they were kidding themselves. There were bound to be growing pains. Solder wasn’t exactly a complete stud last year — and that was at the much easier RT. Getting Logan Mankins back next to him as well. And when the Patriots have a real RT in Sebastian Vollmer, that will allow them to help Solder more (Matt Light got a lot of help himself). And, oh, by the way, Brian Waters still has a locker in the Patriots’ facilities.
Cannon may need to move to guard: The larger concern – somewhat because Sebastian Vollmer is on his way back – is with Cannon. Bill Belichick said this week he believes tackle is Cannon’s best position. I have a feeling the coaches will be re-evaluating that this week and perhaps start trolling for right tackles. The Patriots are going to need a game-day swing tackle and Cannon doesn’t look like he’s going to fit that bill. Matt Kopa is decent – if he can ever stay on the field.
Chung dinged: The shoulder injury suffered by Patrick Chung didn’t appear overly serious, but, considering he has missed 11 starts the past two seasons, everything matters when it comes to the leader of the secondary. The Patriots need him out there and he needs to show better durability.
Mallett shows progress: Ryan Mallett kept hope alive that he can develop into a legitimate QB with a solid performance against the Eagles (10 of 20 for 105 yards, 1 TD, 82.3 rating). He did get let off the hook by two dumb Eagles penalties (one wiped out a bad INT), but he certainly looked the part more than previously. Brian Hoyer (5 of 17, 55 yards, 40.6 rating) sure seemed like he got the short end of the offensive line stick in this one. At one point early, Hoyer had to operate with Nick McDonald at C and Jeremiah Warren at RG.
Defense solid: I was writing about the running backs for the paper so I didn’t get a great look at the defense, but it seemed like they were active again up front against an Eagles offensive line that is really average. Production is production, so it was good to see them continue the momentum. Seemed like Jermaine Cunningham was active, along with the DTs.