New England Patriots: 5 Takeaways From Their Preseason Finale
5 Takeaways from New England Patriots' Preseason Finale
Now that the New England Patriots have played their final preseason game against the New York Giants this past Thursday night, several personnel questions have officially been answered. Some players potentially prolonged their NFL careers by making critical improvements, while others have likely sealed their fate as a roster casualty.
In the next 24 hours, you will be able to determine which players impressed enough in the preseason to stick around, and who was too inconsistent to make the roster.
In the fourth preseason game, proven starters rarely suit up to play. There are exceptions however, like if a starter has yet to be determined, but more often than not, the players in this game are on the roster bubble.
This is because the starters need to fully prepare for the regular season opener and don’t want to risk unnecessary injury. This was no exception for the Patriots as they rested guys like Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich among others.
This gave the backups an opportunity to show that each of them belong on the active 53-man roster. The backup quarterbacks in particular were on full display in the game with Ryan Mallett playing the first half of the game, and Tim Tebow playing the second half of the game.
With all of that said, here is a list of five things that you can take away from the Patriots’ Preseason finale against the Giants. I will start with the play of Mallett Thursday night, breaking down where he needs to improve moving forward.
Ryan Mallett Must Improve His Touch Passes
Mallett has been a player that has not been seen much since he entered the league to be Brady’s backup. When he was drafted, he was thought of as a high-upside quarterback with some character concerns and possible drug use in his past.
As far as on the field goes, he has always possessed one weakness in his game, whether it be at Arkansas or in the Preseason with the Patriots. That weakness is his touch passing. He has struggled with accuracy when taking velocity off his throws, evidence by two plays in particular in Thursday night’s game, including a throw to Leon Washington where he missed him wide open deep for an easy TD.
If Mallet had thrown a better ball, Washington would have walked into the endzone untouched. Instead, the pass was incomplete.
If Mallett can improve on his touch throws, he could be a special player in the NFL.
Patriots Safety Position Still A Concern
One thing that might concern you if you are a Patriots’ fan is the lack of an emerging safety throughout camp this year. The Patriots signed Adrian Wilson to be the solution, but he has underwhelmed to say the least, and according to multiple media outlets, may not even make the team’s final 53-man roster.
If this is true, then the Patriots will have a hard time finding a worthwhile safety to put opposite Devin McCourty. Tavon Wilson has looked mediocre at best in the preseason, Duron Harmon is too raw to be a starter in his first year, and Steve Gregory has struggled during his time with the team.
The safety dilemma could be a major thing to watch going forward.
Tim Tebow Is Improving
Another thing that you can take away from this game is the fact that Tebow, although he has not looked very good thus far, improved on Thursday night. Even though he was sacked four times and completed only 55 percent of his passes on the night, he looked much more certain of what he needed to do with the ball in the game, allowing him to throw for two TD’s.
Although he is a well-below average quarterback in the NFL, my guess is that based on his improvement Thursday night, along with his great character and versatility, the Patriots will keep him around when final cuts are due Saturday night.
Marquice Cole Is Not A Starting-Caliber Cornerback
As far as the backup Cornerbacks are concerned, they were also on full display Thursday night. Marquice Cole and Logan Ryan were on the field for basically the whole game to show what they can do.
Cole, although he did deflect a few passes, was also burned a few times in the game by Hakeem Nicks, often looking confused when trying to cover Nicks man-to-man.
Ryan on the other hand, had a much better handle on playing man coverage than Cole did. He stuck to his receiver like glue the majority of the night.
The only misstep on the night for Ryan was when he allowed a short yardage touchdown to Nicks. Even though he gave up the touchdown, the throw was in a perfect spot where only Nicks could grab it.
In other words, there was very little Ryan could do to prevent the score. Based on this, I believe Ryan would be a more worthy starter if Alfonzo Dennard or Aqib Talib were to miss time for any reason.
Patriots May Have Deepest Running Back Core In The NFL
This last takeaway may be the hardest to comprehend given that Brady is the quarterback for the Patriots, but it might be the running backs that have the most to give in 2013. With the Patriots having the likes of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Leon Washington, and with the emergence of undrafted rookie George Winn, who impressed Thursday night, the Patriots running attack is very deep.
It is possible that all six running backs could be on the roster, but the likelihood is that Bolden could be cut and Winn, placed on the Practice Squad.
If you have to release a player like Bolden who could probably start for many teams, then you know that you are stacked at the running back position.
The Patriots have arguably the most depth at the running back position in the NFL right now and it should be fun to see what they can do in 2013.