Offensive line a major concern:
Quarterback Tom Brady was under duress for the majority of the 19 plays he was on the field, and was crushed by Will Smith at the end of his first series. This breakdown on the offensive line lead to a fumble and a turnover.
Tackle Nate Solder seemed to struggle on the outside, drawing two holding penalties (one of which negated a 17 yard strike from Brady to new target Brandon Lloyd).
Dan Connelly was also beaten badly on the play that backup quarterback Ryan Mallet entered the game, which led to an enormous amount of pressure and an interception. Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer [and Brian Waters] are desperately needed.
Chandler Jones is a beast:
Rookie Jones came into this game with his motor turned on high, and drew two holding penalties as a result. The defensive line as a whole did not generate much of a pass rush in this exhibition match, but Jones was one of the bright spots along the front. If he continues to play like he did tonight, those recent comparisons to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will be justified.
The secondary played [for the most part] well tonight, limiting reining Offensive Player of the Year Drew Brees to only four passing yards on four attempts. They intercepted the ball twice in the first half, and made some nice plays in the secondary.
However, they let the Saints backup quarterback complete a pass on a third and 22 for a first down. Is this a sign of things to come? Only time will tell. There were plays that gave fans reason for optimism, but there were still those cringe-worthy moments that made the Patriots followers so irritated in 2011.
Aaron Hernandez flexible:
Tight end Hernandez lined up all over the field Thursday night –flexed out, as a tight end and in the backfield. He only had one catch during his short time on the field, but his versatility makes him so valuable to this Patriots offense. I have said it before and will say it again: the Patriots need to lock up Hernandez as soon as possible, because he is only going to get better and this means that his price tag is only going to get higher.