Just hours away now from the opening kickoff of the 2013 football season for the Patriots. The off-season that has made many headlines mostly for the wrong reasons will finally be over. The Patriots have had joint practices with the Eagles and according to reports, the pass defense doesn't seem to be clicking. And according to Tom Brady, they've had some bad, and some good practices with their new receiving corps. So what exactly do we all need to look for in today's preseason game?
One thing we need to take a look at is the offensive line, last preseason it looked horrid as Brady was getting smacked around against the Bucs. This will also potentially limit the time Tom Brady sees the field, if he does at all in this game. This is also important for the running game with new additions of Leon Washington and LeGarrette Blount. Which brings me to another thing, the depth of the offensive line will be key because injuries do happen, and when you lose a key linemen, your season can turn dramatically (ask Aaron Rodgers who has lost his blindside blocker to a torn ACL). Blount and Washington will likely see how many holes the backups can open up and how well the backups for the o-line preform.
Another thing is communication between Brady and the players around him. Hopefully everyone is on the same page with all the audibles Brady calls out after seeing the defense. Communication breakdowns lead to interceptions and/or broken plays, two things that don't always end well.
Sounding like a broken record, watch the secondary and see if they can keep up. While it will be a test due to the speed of the Eagles. If the Patriots secondary can deflect balls and stay in the area of the passing targets, it'll show some growth and give confidence in a very questionable area.
Speaking of the speed of the Eagles, watch the new look defensive line and see how effective they are if/when the Eagles speed up the game. Even though it's early, it's important to be as near as the top fitness level possible. And if the big guys get tired, that could hurt the secondary.
And finally, watch all the backups. Don't just quit on the game once the first string leaves. Julian Edelman got a few more eyes watching him in the 2009 preseason after being drafted in the 7th round for a dazzling punt return against the Eagles in week 1 of the preseason. Mostly every backup is fighting not to be cut, others are fighting to move up on the depth chart. You'll catch some diamonds in the rough and come regular season when everyone is learning a late or undrafted players name. You would have known them for weeks in advance.