Because of who the New England Patriots didn't play, you can't go overboard on what Robinson did. That's not to take anything away from him, but when you're trying to gauge how good a starter he can be, you need to measure him against other starters. The Patriots sat a number of them on offense, including quarterback Tom Brady. And it makes a difference. Robinson needs experience and there will be growing pains; saw it this week the way he was fooled by play-action at times. The key for him is to keep learning.
That said, Robinson did have a good game. What does it mean? We'll get a better idea as the summer unfolds and he plays against other teams' starters. But if nothing else, he did what he should have done Thursday night and looked good doing so.
There were a few plays I liked in particular and they showed his quickness, speed and athleticism -- and some smarts as well.
On the game's second play, Robinson made a quick read and met the fullback, the lead blocker, one yard deep in the backfield -- that's a win for any linebacker. Robinson then slid to his left, blocking where the running back was headed. So Stevan Ridley cut back to the left and was tackled by safety Brandon Meriweather. But Robinson made the play.
Another one: Second series, second and 10 from the Patriots' 20. Shane Vereen motions wide to the right, with Robinson coming over to cover him. Quarterback Ryan Mallett sees a potential mismatch and, when the ball is snapped, immediately looks that way. But Robinson has Vereen covered. So Mallett looks off, then starts upfield because of impending pressure. Vereen then throws a stutter-and-go at Robinson, who isn't fooled and has him covered the whole way. Brian Orakpo then sacks Mallett (in 2.6 seconds). That's how it should work: good coverage, good pressure. I know, no Brady makes a big difference -- but Robinson did his job regardless of the quarterback.
Finally, this one provided an example of being heads-up and understanding the defense. As the signal-caller, he'd better understand it but as a young guy when the ball is snapped you never know. On the first play of the second quarter, the Patriots' James White tried to bounce a run outside to the left. Robinson shuffled up, hesitated and then when White finally went wide, Robinson went with him and tackled him at his legs for no gain.
Now, Robinson had seen the Patriots run that play during the week -- just as you would see another team run a play on film in game-plan preparation. But it certainly gave him a better chance to make the play.
Anyway, Robinson played it smart: "As soon as it happened I knew what it was. The reason I stuttered was I wanted to stay behind the ball and not let him cut back. I didn't want to overrun it and have him run it down the middle of the field. I knew where I was needed and where my help was."
Had Robinson shot outside too quickly and White had cut back, the intermediate middle was vacated. By playing it with smarts and patience, knowing he had the speed to still get there, Robinson made a good play.