Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason game against the Buccaneers and offering some first quarter observations:
1) QB Tom Brady's 16-yard touchdown pass to TE Aaron Hernandez could hardly have been easier. Even in the red zone, the Buccaneers opted to only play a single-high safety, while the Patriots had complementary seam routes from TEs Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on opposite sides of the line. As soon as the tight ends got behind the low linebacker/safety zones, they split the single-high safety; Brady could have just as easily thrown to Gronkowski, who was also open in the end zone.
2) Even with DTs Albert Haynesworth and Mike Wright out of the game, the Patriots still got production out of the defensive tackle position. On the second series, Gerard Warren and Myron Pryor were the pairing. On the first play, RB LaGarrette Blount had nowhere to go after Warren put a swim move on LG Ted Larsen and Pryor a spin move on RG Davin Joseph to meet Blount three yards into the backfield.
3) 11-year veteran DE Andre Carter appears to have brought along a slight nuance to his technique, lining up about a half-yard deeper than the rest of the defensive line. What this likely does is give Carter some extra room between him and the blocker, giving him more time to make an initial move instead of being engaged by the blocker immediately at the snap. Carter looked strong as a pass-rusher all night.
4) The Patriots' offensive line had a stellar first quarter in pass protection, keeping Brady clean despite several blitzes -- even one zone blitz -- from the Buccaneers. LT Nate Solder handled fellow first-round pick RDE Adrian Clayborn without problem, as did TE Will Yeatman when he blocked Clayborn at one point. This protection kept the timing of the offense in-sync, helping plays like WR Chad Ochocinco's 8-yard touchdown grab take shape. There were some breakdowns in the running game, though, including RT Sebatian Vollmer failing to get inside leverage on LDT Gerald McCoy on a RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis run that was stopped in the backfield late in the quarter.