Jimmy Garoppolo had another strong showing on Friday night. (USA TODAY Images)
It was good to see the Patriots bounce back after a rocky start last week in Washington, beating up the Philadelphia Eagles 42-35 in a game that was shaky at times but overall showed a lot of promise as the team continues working toward getting ready for the regular season.
For the fans who were on hand, they were able to get a good look at all three quarterbacks Thursday night, with Tom Brady getting the starting nod and playing fairly well, while Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallett both followed him and also looked good while they were out there.
Taking a further look back, here are some thoughts on the victory as the team gets set for next week's match-up at home against the Carolina Panthers.
1) PATRIOTS WERE EFFICIENT MOVING THE BALL AND SCORING:
Looking at the numbers from last night's game, it's hard not to feel good about what the offense was able to do as a whole and all three quarterbacks did a good job. They finished the night with 478 yards of total offense and one of the more impressive stats was the fact that the Patriots finished with 35 first downs and were balanced in terms of how they converted them. They finished the night with 14 passing first downs and 15 rushing, with six more converted via penalty by the Ealges. They also converted an impressive 10-of-15 (67%) on third down.
Even more amazing was what they were able to do down in scoring territory. They converted 6-of-7 red zone opportunities against the Eagles, with each quarterback throwing at least one touchdown pass (they finished with four passing touchdowns total) and also rushed for two scores.
2) MALLETT BOUNCED BACK AFTER ROUGH OUTING:
While it wasn't perfect, Mallett looked a little more confident than he did during last week's loss in Washington and put together a pretty good outing. He finished the night 7-of-11 including a touchdown pass and also rushed for a touchdown. The touchdown pass to Brian Tyms was a perfect throw, with Mallett lobbing a perfect pass that Tyms out-leaped his defender and caught the football with both feet coming down in bounds.
Those are the type of throws that show glimpses of what Mallett's capable of and it's going to be interesting to see in these final two weeks how both he and Garoppolo play out there. If Mallett goes out and has another good night and Garoppolo continues to play well behind him, the Patriots may make the decision to move Mallett should he impress another team enough for them to want to acquire him. Belichick has already experienced how important it is to have a capable back-up in case disaster should strike and Garoppolo still needs to show that removing Mallett from the mix would be a move they could live with.
Malcolm Butler looked impressive once again after a strong showing last week in Washington. (USA TODAY Images)
3) MALCOLM BUTLER CONTINUES TO SHINE:
Butler continues to make his presence felt and followed-up last week's performance with another good one against the Eagles. He surprised everyone by starting opposite Darrelle Revis and was in on a forced fumble with Dont'a Hightower in the first quarter, while also forcing another later in the third quarter that he recovered. He continues to be one of the bright spots of this preseason and is certainly making a strong case for a roster spot should he continue to play well.
4) COULD TYMS FACTOR INTO THE MIX?:
Second-year receiver Brian Tyms had another decent performance after hauling in 3 passes for 29 yards along with a touchdown and is another player making a strong case for a spot on the team. This is a group that has a lot of speed and quickness, which is a nice change from where they were several years ago when they were comprised of older veterans. It's going to be interesting to see how he factors in if he continues to perform the way he has over these first two games.
5) FINCH MAKING A CASE FOR HIMSELF AFTER SLOW START:
Running back Roy Finch improved from his week one outing, finishing the night with seven carries for 37 yards along with a touchdown and also caught two passes for 34 yards. We've seen a lot of growth from him throughout training camp and it was good to see it start to translate into the preseason. Hopefully he can continue to improve over these final two weeks, which if that happens could potentially help him earn a role with this offense heading into the 2014 regular season.
Overall it was a good performance all around and this week's match-up against Carolina will hopefully be one that will see players continue to take positive steps forward before the team begins trimming the roster to 53 in the next couple of weeks.