Fresh off of a 27-17 win over New England (that really wasn't even that close), I'm feeling pretty good, and though I'd put together some take aways I got from last night's game.
The first team O was slated to play three quarters last night, but after the first half's mauling, Big Red decided to bring in Kolb and the boys for the second half. Let's start with DMac. 13 for 17 for 180 yards and 1 TD. McNabb looked good last night, definitely the 5 that we're used to seeing; healthy and on the money with his throws. I think he took one sack (that I can recall) and the pocket basically dissolved around him on that play. He played smart football and spread the ball around well. I'm fairly certain that his first six completions were to six different receivers. LJ Smith looked great last night as well. His blocking and protection were good, but his routes and receiving were fantastic. He made a few great catches and it was great to see him return to form. This offense needs a productive TE to work, and last night we had that. Westbrook, well what can you say that hasn't already been said at some point? He was exactly what you thought he was going to be. The WRs as a whole performed well; especially without Curtis, but truly the stand out was Jackson. My two memorable plays from him were the rocket he hauled in between Hobbs (?) and Harrison up the sideline that McNabb fit into a shoebox and the WR screen he ran. By the way, when's the last time we ran a WR screen that well? Not a whole lot of action for Booker, but something tells me we're saving a lot of those packages for the regular season. Although his speed and the problems that it will present were evident. Tony Hunt had his first go at the fullback position and did okay. The announcers were quick to point out that he had no problem getting into the mix on every play and showed the desire to perform, but his technique needs work, which is to be expected. When Kolb came in for the second half, he looked decent, especially on the drive that started inside our 10. It looks like the game is really slowing down for him and he made good decisions.
I think the opening defensive play by Asante set the stage for the evening. They tried to attack him quickly with the WR reverse to Moss that got absolutely blown up in the backfield. Our corners as a whole played very well (although it looked as if Sheppard let one get away). The defensive line played fairly well, getting some pressure in the face of the QB, and Dan Klecko had his name called quite a few times when he got in there to play. Good for him. The LBs were all over the place last night and the speed differential that we now have showed. Mays surprised me alot in the second half last night, which was a welcomed surprise. The safties. Mikell was all over the place last night, which was great. Dawkins left early, and hopefully it is nothing major. Considine is killing me though. His coverage skills suck. The play I keep going back to is the PI he drew against Moss. Samuel had Moss step for step and all Considine had to do was play under a bit to break up the play. Instead he runs right into Moss, never turning his head and draws the flag. Can't have that stuff happening. Although, I do think Mikell will start. All in all, it was a great first half by our starters and a decent job for the subs, especially against the Pat's starting offense.
Do I really need to say anything? Special teams was a black eye for this team last year, but not last night. The last time we had any kick returned for a TD was in 2003, and not only do we get a kick return last night by Demps, but minutes later, a Jackson punt return as well. Awesome! I just about creamed my pants after D-Jax put the ball down on the other side of the goal line. Although this was only a preseason game, these returns happened against the Pat's starting ST, which is usually one of the better units in the game. One of the offseason goals was to improve the STs and it seems as if they are coming together well and should (hopefully) no longer be an issue. The punt and kick coverage was decent last night and I have to add that David Akers was looking like a different player. Fantastic.
Just some of my quick thoughts here. Overall, I was extremely pleased with how we performed last night. I will venture to say that the 24 to 3 halftime score was more representative of the game rather than the final score. Had we played the entire game with the starters, I'm sure it would have been a blowout. Once the regular season starts, I'm sure that the offensive package will expand and we'll see more of Booker being used in various aspects of the game. Also, it seemed as if they only used a small blitz package last night (expected), so that should also expand once the games mean something. It was a good indicator of how dominant this team CAN be when everything is working and I, for one, am excited.
Two things I think we need to take into consideration though. First, no Tom Brady. It would have been a different first half. Cassel is not starter quality and it showed. So, as much as I'm praising the D for their performance, it did come against Matt Cassel. Conversely, there are only a handful of QBs in the NFL in Brady's league and experience. Also, as good as our WRs looked last night, the Patriots secondary is not all that great. Their starting corners are average, at best and Harrison and Lynch, although solid players, are not the same players that they once were. That truly showed when Lynch was the last line of defense on Demps' return and got absolutely embarrassed. He was expecting to be able to cut Demps off, and all Demps did was side step him a bit and that was the end of that. Just want to keep those few things in mind. All in all, good game and win.