THE RETURN OF TOM BRADY, THE SIGNING OF MICHAEL VICK AND THE DEBUT OF JULIAN EDELMAN (WHO?)

                                Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

       

It was fascinating to be at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night, not just for the debut of Tom Brady after missing last year, but also for the in-stadium reaction to the signing of Michael Vick and the debut of the next great sleeper (arguably), Julian Edelman.

     

TOM BRADY RETURNS

             

It was obvious, if you were at the game, that Tom Brady was anxious to get back on the field after being injured in the season opener last year.  Brady was jumping up and down, ready to go.  It was (maybe) a disadvantage that the Patriots didn’t receive the opening kick as Brady was on the sidelines continuously throwing the ball.  Obviously, he couldn’t wait to get into the game.

                              

Once in the game, Brady looked smooth as ever, albeit a little rusty.  While he would throw a few deep balls with limited success, it was important (at least in this writer’s opinion), that he take a few hits just to get that aspect of the game out of the way.

                          

But it never happened.  Despite playing virtually the whole first-half (except for two Patriot kneel-downs in the last minute of the first half), Brady, 10-15 for 100 yards with two TDs and one INT, never really was hit.  In fact, the only time he was TOUCHED by the opposition was when he snuck it up the middle for a first down on third and very short.

                   

Separate from his injury, Brady is the one NFL quarterback that I’ve seen who always throws to stay loose – on the sidelines before he goes in, during time-outs, right before the game starts, etc.  If you’re at a Patriots game, watch how much he throws on the sidelines.  He’s almost like a pitcher who is afraid his arm will stiffen up if he doesn’t continuously throw the ball.

                           

Overall, he had a heck of a half.  But it was really a touch throw over a short defender and in front of a deep defender to Randy Moss for a 35-yard gain that, more than anything, showed that he’s already close to back.  By the first real game, absent injury, the rest of the NFL will be in deep trouble.

               

WHAT WAS THE VICK REACTION AT LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD?

                         

To be frank, it was very mixed.  During the second quarter, after Donovan McNabb, not very accurate all game, made one of those short throws off the mark, a fan in section 118 yelled out, “Bring in Vick.”  Just then my son, a Patriots fan, got a text from a friend that the Eagles had signed Vick.

                

By half-time, everybody in Lincoln Financial Field knew, and the back-and-forth among Eagles fans was fascinating:  from “we don’t need him” to “he’s a bad guy” to “think about him in the Wildcat” to “what if McNabb is horrible?”

               

I found the last one to be the most interesting.  Many forget that Donovan McNabb, franchise quarterback, was benched last year for virtual unknown Kevin Kolb.  While McNabb came back a week later and played well the rest of the way, it’s not at all a stretch to paint the picture, in a tough town like Philadelphia, where McNabb plays poorly and people (players?) start screaming for Vick.

                    

And where does that leave A.J. Feeley, a decent NFL quarterback in his own right?

            

We’ll see what happens.

          

WHERE WAS ANDY REID ON ALL OF THIS?

            

Well, Reid, like everyone else, said all the right things at the press conference the next morning.  But Reid, despite praising Vick, essentially told Chris Mortensen earlier this week that the Eagles had no need for Vick.  While one can argue that the injury (now, apparently, not very serious) to back-up quarterback Kevin Kolb opened the door to sign Vick, there seems to be some disconnect to what Reid told ESPN earlier this week (essentially no interest) and the reality which, according to Reid himself, included discussions with Vick and Tony Dungy ten days ago (Reid said he really did his homework on this one).

               

Whatever the truth, and while there’s no doubt that Vick deserves another chance, this has a potential big upside for the Eagles – and a potential big downside as well.

                

INTRODUCING THE NEW WES WELKER? – JULIAN EDELMAN

                   

Lost in the shuffle of all this news (the return of Brady, the signing of Vick) was, arguably, the best player on the field.  QB Julian Edelman, a seventh-round Patriots pick out of Kent State, is being converted to wide receiver/returner.  He couldn’t have been more impressive (75-yard punt return for a TD, 5 catches for 37 yards).  He instantly reminds you of Wes Welker, an excellent possession receiver, who finds open spots and will find open spots easier with a star like Randy Moss on the field. 

                 

But his intelligence was also apparent at the game on the punt return (how do the Patriots always find these guys?).  In the second quarter, the Eagles punted and Edelman caught the punt and, rather than going north/south for the six or eight yards he could get, decided to go east/west for no yardage.  But there was a flag on the play and the Eagles had to re-kick.  This time the punt was even tougher to return, as Edelman was pinned almost on the sideline.  But he ran north/south, faked out the first man down and then somehow found open space (with some good blocking) and returned the punt 75 yards for a touchdown.  For a converted QB (think of the Wildcat possibilities for this guy) to make that correction in one punt was amazing.  I think you’ll be hearing from this kid.  He can play.

     

BY THE WAY, WHERE WAS WES WELKER?

          

One of the reasons Julian Edelman probably got so much time was the absence of Wes Welker.  Apparently he didn’t play due to an “unspecified” injury.  But Edelman fooled one reporter who covered the game who noted that Welker caught Brady’s first completion (interestingly, if you do watch Edelman, he really does remind you of Welker, a great complement).

                

What was also fascinating is that before and during the game, there was a little guy in shorts and a t-shirt (and a baseball cap on backwards) who was catching with Brady or who would catch the ball for Brady when Brady was playing catch with Moss.  Of course, my son had to tell me that it was Welker playing catch – it seemed to me that half the men in the stadium were bigger than Welker.  But, as we all know, Wes Welker is a big-time football player.   

                     

CONCLUSION AFTER ONE EXHIBITION GAME

                  

That’s easy.  The Patriots will be clicking on all cylinders once the season gets underway.  It’s easy to see that Tom Brady will be back and, absent injury, as good as ever.  While the Patriots still have some work to do on defense, their offense (if this is possible) will be as good as it was two years ago.  And, if that’s the case (and it says here that it is), they will make their return to the top of the NFL.

                      

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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