Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Saints and offers some of his fourth-quarter observations:
1. The Patriots gave rookie QB Zac Robinson the opportunity for a drop-back pass on a third-and-1 situation early in the fourth quarter. LT George Bussey was beaten inside by RE Jeff Charleston, while RG Ted Larsen was beaten outside by DT DeMario Pressley. Both Saints defenders combined on the sack of Robinson. It was Larsen’s second blown block of the series.
2. On a deep sideline pattern by Saints WR Adrian Arrington, Patriots CB Jonathan Wilhite was initially beaten but managed to recover and have a chance to make a play on the ball. Originally, it appeared as if Wilhite got a piece of the ball or had knocked it out of Arrington’s hands. However, on further review, the ball simply hit Arrington off the left elbow and bounced away.
3. Patriots LT Mark LeVoir was beaten twice by RE Junior Galette on consecutive plays. The first one had Galette spinning to the inside and using LG Ryan Wendell as a pick before hitting Robinson and almost forcing an interception. The second play saw Galette beat LeVoir inside with a swim move and get to Robinson again, forcing another incompletion.
4. At inside linebacker, Dane Fletcher and Tyrone McKenzie received most of the late-game reps. Both struggled at times, especially in the running game, misreading some plays and getting overpowered on others. On one play, Fletcher took a misstep while tracking a running back out of the backfield, and was easily beaten to the flat. The differences in instincts and technique are noticeable between McKenzie and rookie ILB Brandon Spikes, who already looks natural at the position.
5. Late in the fourth quarter, RT Thomas Welch was beaten outside by LE Junior Galette, who rounded the corner and took a swipe at QB Zac Robinson’s right arm. Robinson continued to look downfield, attempting another pass as he got hit by Galette; it fell incomplete. The play easily could have been a fumble. Robinson did not have the pocket presence to feel Galette take the first swipe and realize that he needed to protect the football.
6. Patriots WR Darnell Jenkins’ 52-yard catch-and-run was sprung by both a blitz from Saints CB Patrick Robinson as well as a key block by WR Taylor Price on safety Chris Reis. Meanwhile, center Ted Larsen displayed some athleticism, staying ahead of Jenkins to block even 30 yards downfield.
7. Breaking down goal-line stand the Patriots mounted late in the fourth quarter:
First down: Saints attempt a quick slant to WR Adrian Arrington. Patriots CB Terrence Wheatley wraps his arm in front of Arrington and breaks up the catch.
Second down: Saints attempt a run off-tackle. DT Darryl Richard breaks into the backfield and forces RB P.J. Hill outside. LCB Devin McCourty strips Hill, but the fumble is recovered at the spot by FB Marcus Mailei.
Third down: Saints attempt a fake run up the middle, and a rollout by QB Chase Daniel. RCB Terrence Wheatley goes unblocked by WR Adrian Arrington and tackles Daniel for a loss.
Check out all of Rodak's breakdowns for the Patriots-Saints game: