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Bill Belichick: Using tablets in preseason opener had positives and negatives

08.08.14 at 5:48 pm ET
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For a guy who has struggled to program the clock in his car, it was interesting to hear Bill Belichick offer his take on the new sideline technology used in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Redskins.

The coaching staff was spotted using tablets, part of a leaguewide initiative launched this year as part of a partnership with Microsoft. For the most part, it sounds like the situation was a good one. That’s not to say it went perfectly — there was a glitch in the Wi-Fi at some point in the evening, causing some issues on the sideline. But all in all, Belichick sounded mostly happy with the way things went.

“The tablets have the ability to hold all the pictures in the one tablet so you can scroll through them — [it’s] certainly much more concise,” Belichick said Friday. “I’€™d say the quality of the tablets is good and the clarity of the pictures and all that is good — better than what we had.

“The issues are that those are wireless tablets down on the field, and if the Wi-Fi isn’€™t connected or isn’€™t working or something happens, then you have nothing. You have zero,” he added. “That happened in our game, and it’€™s happened in other games, from my understanding of talking to other people that had been involved.”

Belichick said there “are some pluses,” but at the same time, the consistency and dependability is something he’d like remedied between now and the start of the season.

“It’€™s really no new information. It’€™s not like we’€™re getting a new picture or a new view or a new anything we haven’€™t seen before,” he said. “I’€™d say that the way it comes on a tablet so that it’€™s all together and easier to access is probably the plus side of it. I’€™d say so far, overall that to count on it being all connected and working right is — I guess — what we’€™re working through.”

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Tracking opportunities in Patriots preseason passing game

08.08.14 at 11:41 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game after one game of the 2014 preseason:

WR Brian Tyms: 5 catches on 6 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 3 catches on 5 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 2 catches on 5 targets
RB Roy Finch: 1 catch on 4 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 1 catch on 2 targets
WR Wilson Van Hooser: 1 catch on 1 target
FB James Develin: 1 catch on 1 target
TE Justin Jones: 0 catches on 1 target

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Jimmy Garoppolo says he ‘did all right’ in his first NFL game

08.08.14 at 12:54 am ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — He was one of the bright spots on an otherwise gloomy night for the Patriots.

Jimmy Garoppolo finished 9-for-13 with 157 yards, a 135.7 QB rating and a nice 26-yard touchdown pass to Brian Tyms that could’ve, would’ve been his second of the night to Tyms had it not been for a questionable incomplete call in the end zone in the third quarter.

Garoppolo’s thoughts about taking his first NFL snaps, even if they were in the preseason?

“€œTough. Losing like that is never fun, but it is a good experience for the first preseason game and I had fun out there,” he said. “I did all right. There is a lot of stuff to improve on. It is a process. For any rookie quarterback, there is a lot to learn from and we will go watch the tape tomorrow and fix those things.”

Garoppolo made several nice individual plays, including scrambling on a fourth-and-goal at the Washington 4. Garoppolo found Josh Boyce in the back of the end zone but his pass deflected off his hands as the Patriots turned it over on downs.

“I mean, it is definitely fast, faster than college, that is, for sure,” Garoppolo said. “So, it is something you just have to adapt to. You have to adapt quickly in this environment and we are doing a good job of that I think.”

The only time Garoppolo looked a bit nervous was when he rolled out on his very first snap. He went to his right and had Justin Jones wide open over the middle but threw it behind him for an incompletion.

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Brian Tyms, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots

Mike Petraglia breaks down an ugly night for Patriots in preseason opener

08.08.14 at 12:34 am ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia breaks down what went wrong and some of the highlights as the Patriots fell to the Washington Redskins, 23-6, in the preseason opener for both teams.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, Trags

Ryan Mallett feels he ‘did a few positive things’

08.08.14 at 12:30 am ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — Ryan Mallett knows the numbers don’t tell a pretty story from Thursday night’s preseason opener.

But he still says that on a night when he went 5-of-12 for 55 yards and a rating of 55.9, he took some steps forward.

“I feel like I did a few positive things,” Mallett said. “A few things I wish I could do different, but that’€™s what practice is for. We go back to work next week and get ready to go again.”

Mallett did show he could handle adversity, not entirely of his own making. Nate Solder and the offensive line had a hard time blocking for him, as he took an early sack, a quarterback hit and watched two passes get called back because of holding calls.”

Mallett showed the ability to run with the football, scrambling for a 15-yard gain up the middle in the second quarter. He took the opportunity to poke fun at those who have questioned his footwork as it relates to his mechanics and throwing consistency.

“You guys [media] want to talk about my feet,” he said. “I can move my feet a little bit.’€

Thursday was ugly as he couldn’t put points on the board. But asked point blank if he felt as if he were running out of time to prove himself in New England, he scoffed at the notion.

“No, not at all,” Mallett said. “€œI have to go watch the film ‘€“ a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on, too many penalties.

“I felt comfortable back there. I mean, you never know what’€™s going to happen, who you’€™re going to play against. You go out there and do the best you can and, like I said, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get better as a team.”

Mallett also insisted he doesn’t think he is auditioning for other NFL teams at this point.

‘€œNot at all. I’€™m playing for the Patriots. I’€™m playing for my team,” Mallett said.

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Read More: 2014 training camp, New England Patriots, Ryan Mallett,

Bill Belichick: ‘We just have to do a better job than that’

08.08.14 at 12:23 am ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — As you would expect after a 23-6 loss to the Redskins in the preseason opener, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t thrilled with much.

Ryan Mallett was 5-of-12 for just 55 yards and was hit several times in the pocket thanks to a shaky offensive line. His rookie kick returner fumbled a kickoff (that didn’t count thanks to an offsides) and muffed a punt return later.

His starting left tackle Nate Solder looked very shaky at times, allowing a sack, a big quarterback hit and a committed a holding that wiped out a first down pass on third-and-long.

All in all, there were plenty of teaching points, and he acknowledged them afterward.

“€œI don’€™t think we did very many things the way we wanted to do them tonight,” Belichick said. “We weren’€™t good in any phase of the game. We got the ball on the ground and we didn’€™t play very well on defense. We didn’€™t move the ball well and we were in too many long yardage situations. We were not good enough in the kicking game. Overall, we have a lot of work to do. That is obvious. We need to get back to work and see if we can improve in every area.”

There were some positives, like the play of Brian Tyms, the third-year receiver who nearly had a spectacular touchdown catch before being on the receiving end of a 26-yard scoring strike from Jimmy Garoppolo. There was the play of rookie corner Malcolm Butler, who filled in for Darrelle Revis.

“There were a few flashing moments, but not many. We have a lot of work to do and that is all of us, coaching staff, players, offense, defense, special teams, everybody. We just have to do a better job than that.”

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Read More: 2014 training camp, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett

What we learned Thursday: Ryan Mallett uneven as Patriots open preseason with loss to Redskins

08.07.14 at 10:23 pm ET
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In the preseason opener for both teams, the Redskins beat the Patriots 23-6 Thursday night in Landover, Maryland. New England rested most of their starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Accordingly, Washington was able to get up early and never look back — the Redskins led 10-0 after one quarter and 13-0 at halftime on the way to the win.

For the Patriots, Ryan Mallett was 5-for-12 for 55 yards in two-plus quarters. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked good in his first professional action, going 8-for-12 for 141 yards and a touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter. Garoppolo found his favorite training camp target with most of his passes, as wide receiver Brian Tyms ended up with five catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Josh Boyce added three catches for 30 yards for New England.

On the other side of the ball, Robert Griffin III was 2-for-4 for 9 yards, while backup Kirk Cousins ended up 9-for-13 for 103 yards and a touchdown. Lache Seastrunk had 12 carries for 63 yards.

Here are 10 things we learned about the Patriots Thursday night:

We don’t know any more about Ryan Mallett than we did when the night began.

The backup quarterback, who got the start for the first time in his professional career (either in the regular season or preseason) was up and down throughout. There were some good moments — he was able to move the ball successfully on more than one occasion over the first two-plus quarters, and had two early third-down conversions called back because of penalties — but mostly, it was relatively underwhelming performance for the Arkansas product, who finished 5-for-12 for 55 yards on 18 snaps (not including penalties). In a start that was likely designed to showcase him for a possible trade, it’s debatable how much he helped the Patriots, as well as his own stock if/when he reached free agency.

In his defense, he didn’t get much help from the New England running game (only two Patriots’ backs rushed for more than 10 yards), and there were also missed connections with several receivers, including two ugly ones at the end of the first half: First, Boyce ran right into a defender on a play where it looked like Mallett expected Boyce to do something else. (Maybe make a cut earlier than he did?) And second, on a 3rd and long play, Roy Finch churned out of the backfield on a pass route, but Mallett ended up hitting him in the back with a pass. His best moment likely came at the end of the first quarter when he hit Boyce on a 15-yarder on a nice sequence, but in the end, it was an uneven performance for Mallett.

This one was all about the backups.

Six minutes into the game, and it was clear that this game was going to be about getting the second- and third-teamers active game reps and using the game tape as evaluation. On offense, there was no Brady, Danny Amendola and Edelman, as well as no Rob Gronkowski and a stitched-together version of the offensive line that included Josh Kline, who was flagged for holding on the first drive. On the other side of the ball, there was no Darrelle Revis, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich or Dont’a Hightower. The only No. 1’s on the field on defense at the start were Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Brandon Browner. (Wilfork was done after one series.) As a result, it would be dangerous to read too much into the final score. That’s not to say there won’t be plenty of game film for Belichick to be upset with later this week. But let’s not read too much into this game.

If there was a Patriots quarterback who popped Thursday, it was Jimmy Garoppolo.

It was against third- and fourth-stringers, but Garoppolo looked better in his limited reps Thursday against the Redskins than he did in practice over the first two weeks of camp. It looked like he had an extremely limited set of plays, but did well with what was offered to him. He appeared poised and natural, and was able to get the ball out quickly and without an issue. His high point likely came on his first sequence, when he went deep for his favorite target, Tyms. They weren’t able to make a connection — there was some question as to whether or not the Patriots should have challenged the play, which would have been a touchdown — but the penalty on the Redskins defensive back got them down to the Washington 4-yard line. New England couldn’t punch it in, but it was an impressive sequence for the rookie, who had a good first night in the NFL.

There was some mixing and matching along the offensive line.

The Patriots went with a few different personnel packages up front. New England utilized Dan Connolly — who was last year’s starting right guard — as the No. 1 center. Meanwhile, Jordan Devey got the call at left guard in place of Logan Mankins, Kline at right guard and Marcus Cannon at right tackle. (Starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was a tackle eligible at the start of the contest, while starting left tackle Nate Solder was on the field at his usual position at the start of the game.) One interesting thing that stood out — last year’s starting center Ryan Wendell played late into the contest, running with the third-stringers deep into the second half. Not sure what that means (and how injured rookie Bryan Stork figures into the mix as well), but the center spot continues to be one that bears watching going forward.

The starters that did get the call on defense weren’t in there very long.

Wilfork and Kelly appeared to be active along the defensive front, and went to the bench fairly early on. As for Browner, he was flagged for illegal contact once in the first quarter, a “point of emphasis” call that wasn’t completely a surprise considering who it came against. A veteran who made his bones with the Legion of Boom, he’s acknowledged that he might have to change up his style of play when it comes to this year because of the new spotlight on the rules regarding pass defense. He was out after roughly a quarter, but he’ll be a guy to watch when the referees come to camp next week for the joint practices between the Patriots and Eagles.

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett,

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