LANDOVER, Md. Bill Belichick sounded like a coach who’d been beaten by 17 points.
Technically, that was true. He’s a coach who needs to keep his players focused during training camp, so there was no point in mentioning that Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis and most of the other starters didn’t play.
The Patriots were thumped 23-6 by the Washington Redskins in their preseason opener Thursday in a game that served mostly as an audition for players trying to move up the depth chart or simply make the roster.
“I didn’t think really we did very many things the way we wanted to do them tonight,” Belichick said. “We just weren’t very good in any phase of the game. We had the ball on the ground. Didn’t play well enough on defense. Didn’t move the ball, were in too many long-yardage situations. Not good enough in the kicking game. So just overall, we’ve got a lot of work to do. That was obvious.”
The reviews were different earlier in the week, when the Patriots starters looked far more polished and precise than their Redskins counterparts during three days of joint practices at Washington’s training camp facility in Richmond, Virginia.
So Thursday turned into a well-deserved day off for all but nine of New England’s projected opening day starting 22, including Brady, top offseason acquisition Revis, receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman and linebacker Jerod Mayo. Tight end Rob Gronkowski also remains out as he recovers from knee surgery.
The backups failed to do much to pick up the slack. Ryan Mallett started at quarterback and completed 5 of 12 passes for 55 yards. Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo played the second half and went 8 for 12 for 141 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown to Brian Tyms.
“You never know what’s going to happen, who you’re going to play against, so you go out there and do the best you can,” Mallett said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get better as a team.”
Robert Griffin III played only one series for the Redskins under new coach Jay Gruden. Griffin completed 2 of 4 passes for 9 yards, and Alfred Morris ran for 27 yards in an 11-play drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal from Kai Forbath. Forbath hit the right upright from 34 yards, but he was given a second chance because the Redskins were whistled for delay of game.
“We came out and did what we wanted to do,” Griffin said. “Got the 1s in and out, had an effective drive. Got some points, almost had a touchdown.”
The Redskins’ prized free agent pickup, receiver DeSean Jackson, was also sidelined after hurting his left ankle during Wednesday’s practice. Among others sitting out for Washington were receiver Pierre Garcon, safety Ryan Clark and safety Phillip Thomas – all nursing hamstring injuries.
Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy each threw touchdown passes for the Redskins, who have won seven consecutive preseason games. Last year they won more games in the preseason (four) than in the regular season (three).