Thursday, August 11, 2011
Five Questions For Pariots-Jaguars
The NFL opens up its preseason schedule tonight with five games on the schedule but fans of Boston Bias know that only one game matters, Patriots-Jaguars tonight at Gillette Stadium (7:30 p.m).
The Pats have many questions headed into the 2011 season and the first game in the preseason is a great chance to see what changes they have made so far in the abbreviated offseason. So without further ado, here are five questions as we look forward to the first game of the preseason.
1. Will Tom Brady Play?
Ordinarily, the answer to this would be an emphatic NO, as the icon does not need the extra reps this early in the preseason. However, thanks to the lockout, Brady and Co. have not had the usual amount of training and playbook installation that they have had in years past. His health notwithstanding, I wouldn't be surprised to see Brady play the first series to finally get some game speed action. Look for Brian Hoyer to get the majority of the playing time, as well as rookie QB Ryan Mallett.
2. 4-3 or 3-4?
With the addition of Albert Haynesworth, Shawn Ellis and others, the Patriots addressed one of their most pressing needs; the defensive line. Last year, their base 3-4 had a hard time getting off the field and the bend but don't break philosophy came back to haunt them on many occasions. The revamped defensive line corps has raised questions about whether or not head coach Bill Belichick has considered switching to the 4-3 defense. In classic Belichickian form, he responded to these questions by saying that it doesn't matter where the players line up, just that they do their job. Still, tonight will give us the first glimpse into Belichick's plans for the much-improved front seven.
3. What about OchoCinco?
Word came out of camp that Ocho had a tough tine catching passes and didn't look as sharp as he normally does. Probably because he thought that he was returning to Cincinnati for another season. Regardless, Ocho will most certainly be with the first unit and it will be interesting to see how he plays alongside Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez. Will he be that Randy Moss "stretch the field" type wideout or evolve into more of a possession role? I am assuming the latter but we will see tonight.
4. Is Nate Solder ready?
Matt Light will not play today, so for most of us, it will be the first chance to see the Patriots' 2011 first-round draft pick, tackle Nate Solder. With Light locked up for two more years, Solder will be the left tackle of the future. Seeing him play tonight, hopefully with the first unit should give us an early glimpse into the next few years, especially next to Mankins.
5. Who's who in the secondary?
Last season, the Patriots were really hurt by the loss of CB Leigh Bidden but had an amazing rookie campaign from Devin McCourty as well as an impressive showing from Patrick Chung. We still need to see more from Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington however. James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather will be there when the season starts, so look for the secondary to improve with age.