FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — One exhibition game isn't enough for Bill Belichick to make any firm decisions.
So after watching his runners pile up yards, his best cornerback give
up a long touchdown pass and Tim Tebow do better running than throwing,
the New England coach is eager to see more.
"Way too early to make any definitive decisions," Belichick said
Saturday, "but we're making progress and we have more to work with than
we had five days ago."
The Patriots beat the Eagles 31-22 on Friday night after practicing
with them for three days in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, New England will be at home to start joint practices with
the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the teams meet Friday night at Gillette
"We need to see and be exposed to different things and we'll certainly
get that this week," Belichick said. "We're looking forward to another
similar, hopefully, type of week where we can improve and grow as a
Against the Eagles, the Patriots rushed for 248 yards starting with
Stevan Ridley's 62-yard gain on the first snap of the game. LeGarrette Blount, who will face his former team Friday, ran for 101 yards,
including 51 for a touchdown on which he reversed field behind the line
of scrimmage in his first game since being traded by the Buccaneers.
Both have had 1,000-yard rushing seasons — Blount with 1,007 as a
rookie in 2010 and Ridley with 1,263 in his second NFL season last year.
"It's not like he hasn't performed well in this league," Belichick said
about Blount. "It's no shock he can run the ball. We all know that."
But take away those two big runs and the Patriots gained 135 on 29
"We had our moments," Belichick said. "Some of it we were fortunate. We
caught a good play against a bad defense."
Other times the receivers occupied defensive backs long enough so they
couldn't move up to tackle the runner.
"Even though the yardage was high, that's a little bit deceptive,"
Belichick said. "There were some encouraging things."
He didn't seem discouraged when Aqib Talib was beaten up the right side
on Michael Vick's 47-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson on
Philadelphia's first possession.
The pass was just too good.
"You just have to give credit to the offense. That was a great throw,
perfectly thrown, great route by DeSean," Belichick said. "Obviously,
our defense wasn't good enough any time you give up a play like that,
but it was an exceptional play that we were close on, but, obviously,
not close enough.
"It probably would have been a big play on a lot of different players
Belichick got a chance to see how his players react in situations that
don't come up a lot.
Zoltan Mesko had to punt from deep in his end zone, the defense got to
face four plays when the Eagles went for it on fourth down, and Tebow
entered the game earlier than planned. He came in when second-string
quarterback Ryan Mallett was hit in the chest late in the second
quarter and left with what the team said was a head injury, although
Mallett said he did not suffer a concussion.
Unusual developments allow Belichick to judge his players' preparedness.
"There's no way to script those, how many are going to come up or when
they're going to come up," he said. "That's part of the evaluation to
see how players react on the run, adjust to unplanned situations. They
think they're not going to play right away (but someone gets injured
and) they have to go in and play. Well, that's football, too.
"Like what happened to Mallett. If you're the backup quarterback, you
never know when you're going in the game," Belichick said. "Whenever it
is, you've just got to be ready. All those things are opportunities."
When Tebow played, the Patriots simplified their offense to capitalize
on his running ability and avoid his throwing limitations.
He ran four times for 31 yards and completed 4 of 12 passes for 55
"It's all about the same for everyone," Belichick said after the game
when asked about Tebow. "It was good. It was far from perfect. We all
made mistakes out there and there are plenty of things to work on for
all of us. Not singling anyone out."