Before last night's game I was thinking that we needed to win by 30 points, but I would take a 20 point win, as long as they were "legitimate" points. What I mean is points coming off of domination on the football field, such as 10-play 80-yard drives, not because the ball bounced our way. I wanted a workaday, methodical win. The "wild" first half (per the announcers) is not what we needed. I'll take the 25 point win that we actually got, but there's a lot we need to work on as a team. Here are my positives and negatives.
- Home run offensive plays, bringing back the fun to our offense and reminding me of the late '90s. However, we can't count on having them in future games as we go against better defenses.
- Locke boomed the kickoffs completely out the back of the end zone almost every time, seven out of eight by my count, and the eighth was a touchback too. He only had a couple of punts, but made great placement. He is an asset.
- Defense was aggressive, blitzing often, swarming to the ball. However, there were plenty of problems with overpursuit and players running themselves out of plays.
- Great adjustments at halftime leading to a shutout in the second half. We're paying Lou Spanos a lot of money ($550k), so he better be able to make great adjustments. But he needs to tighten up some defensive issues.
- Offensive line seemed to hold up ok; not as bad as it could have been.
- On the whole I liked the schemes on both offense and defense, along with the aggressiveness taken by Mora & Co. I liked going for it on 4th and 4.
- Better game management than in years past. No more Keystone Kops.
- Obviously, Fairbairn and his blocked PATs. Unacceptable, but I have hope that he's just got freshman jitters and will take care of business in the future.
- Defense giving up plays and points. Rice should have been overmatched and they shouldn't have been able to move the ball.
- I didn't see too many blue-collar offensive plays (short yardage, dink & dunk, controlled drives) which demonstrate dominance on the field. Actually, Rice moved the ball in a more controlled manner than we did. They were 7-of-18 on 3rd down conversions to our 2-of-11, and they controlled time of possession. Then again, when we're racking up one-play touchdown drives, there isn't much need to get 3rd down conversions. Rice won the 1st half 1st down battle 16 to 12.
- Hundley needs to learn when to throw the ball away. His 75% completion rate would actually be about 60% if he threw it away instead of taking losses of yardage.
On the whole, it was a good tune-up and a chance to test drive the new team against an inferior opponent. I've seen enough to have a moderate amount of optimism for the rest of the season. Now Mora needs to get to work on fixing the deficiencies.