The Patriots completed their first game of the 2017 preseason, “losing” to the Jaguars 31-24.
Yes, no one cares about who wins or loses preseason games but there was still plenty to unpack from the contest, including some great performances by some young weapons and some dreadful performances from some young veterans who are supposed to be taking a positive step forward this season.
Let’s start with the only thing that truly matters after a preseason game — injuries. Yeah, guys can play good or bad, but ultimately there’s a long way to go and no roster spots were won or lost after one preseason game. But injuries can kill a season in an instant.
- Dietrich Wise — Oh that rookie that everyone was abuzz about this preseason? He was kneed in the head and left the game in the first half. I feel weird saying “luckily it’s just a concussion” given what we know now. In the olden days this would be written off with a “he just got his bell rung.” Now it’s a “shit, I hope this doesn’t mean he’s donating his brain to a study someday but… he’ll probably be back soon.” Of course if you’re choosing between getting his leg broken in half and getting kneed in the head, the choice is obvious, but I still don’t feel good about it.
- Elandon Roberts — Limped off, but one of those tough as nails guys. I think he’ll be okay. Looked like an ankle thing.
Okay, injuries are out of the way, let’s talk the good, the bad and the whatever.
— Ted Karras’ strong August continues. I don’t know if he’s going to win a starting spot but he’s grabbing the interior swing spot that was up for grabs by the balls and then pancaking it.
Malik Jackson got pancaked on that long Patriots run last drive. My word. pic.twitter.com/9ohgka4QTa
— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) August 11, 2017
— Elandon Roberts missed some plays and got an injury for his troubles but I remain a big fan of his and the intensity he brings to the defense. Such a needed element, especially given the losses of Ninkovich, Sheard and Long up front.
— Dion Lewis played a bunch in this one and just pass on every hot taek that is reinvigorated to claim it’s a sign he’s on the bubble. 1) Someone who’s good had to play with Jimmy or else he’d get slaughtered (and really, he still kinda got slaughtered at times. 2) There are like three healthy RBs. 3) Dion needs to be ready for the regular season and tonight was his night to get his feet wet.
— Cyrus Jones got burned for a 97-yard TD, turning his head too soon and allowing enough separation for the catch. Talk about a guy who’s gotta keep fighting. His confidence just keeps taking blow after blow but let’s not forget, he was a playmaker at Alabama and was electric with the ball in his hands. But NFL careers can be so fickle. Couple bad plays, you get buried on the depth chart, you blow another chance and before you know it you’re on another team as a castoff. As much as many Patriots fans must love to hate on him, I hope Cyrus keeps fighting. I think they could use him at some point. But between this play and the other long one (that I think was more on Richards, more on that below), it was a rough start.
— Austin Carr (5/44/1) is this year’s wide receiver who lights it up that everyone falls in love with. He had a great night and will be getting plenty of attention the rest of the month. But it will still probably take a significant injury for him to make the 53. Still, he’ll be fun to watch the rest of this preseason at least.
Avoid the pressure: ✔
Find an open receiver: ✔
Make a leaping catch: ✔
Garoppolo to Carr for the TD! pic.twitter.com/QBkobJ0e4j
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 11, 2017
— Gostkowski missed a 56-yarder and every Patriots fan collectively squirmed. We can only say “don’t worry, he’ll be okay for so long”, and yeah, it was a long one, but the ball just didn’t look right coming off his foot. Well, it’s not like we have much choice at this point. Is anyone off the street going to be better? No way. So for at least *the start of* 2017 we’re rolling with Gost, but I think we’re all puckering our buttholes for every big kick this season.
— Jacob Hollister (6/115) is the tight end version of Carr, but again, we’ve been here before. There is a third tight end spot up for grabs and maybe Hollister could stick but I still think it’s a long shot given he’s not going to be blocking a legit NFL defender any time soon.Sorry to be a buzzkill on these guy but how many Bam Childresses and Zach Sudfeld’s have we seen?
— I can’t quite believe it but there was a Roger Goodell Sneak Attack at Gillette last night. What’s the motivation here? He’s gotta come back in a month for the opener? I feel like he caught Patriots nation off guard and it’s inexcusable. Just look at the shock on the Patriots fans faces. No one even flipped a bird. What. Is. Happening.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) August 11, 2017
— On the 79-yard touchdown run, Woodrow Hamilton was blasted out of the hole, Elandon Roberts missed the tackle, partly because of Hamilton getting pushed into him and then, instead of holding it to a good run, Jordan Richards takes a bad angle and it goes the distance. Rough team defense there, eh Matty P?
When your defense gives up a 79-yard touchdown run. pic.twitter.com/KJKzZFkPMc
— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) August 11, 2017
— Kony Ealy looks like he’s playing completely uninspired football. He was pulled after losing the edge on one significant run and didn’t see the field again. He better find some fire and find it quick.
— I haven’t really been excited about Harvey Langi from what I’ve seen in camp but in this game I really started to what the Pats must see in him. He’s an active player, lots of energy and despite not having great size he seems to make his way into the heart of plays. He’s one to watch.
— Garoppolo, after a lot of talk of how he didn’t have a great, ahem, first dozen practices, had a solid night. Now we’ll get to hear all kinds of conjecture why he played into the third. All in all it’s just more of the same, paralysis by Jimmy G overanalysis.
— The second long touchdown looked like Cover 2 to me, so yes Cyrus should’ve probably gotten a hand on him off the line, but really Jordan Richards has to get over the top to stop the deep ball. Richards had an atrocious game after being really active the first week of camp. If Patrick Chung goes down it’s going to really limit what the Pats can do and likely eliminate much of the three safety package if not all of it.
🚨 Matt Patricia emotion update 🚨 pic.twitter.com/te9hOxcs0X
— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) August 11, 2017
The 207 rushing yards against were not good and really, my biggest concern for the real 2017 (not the backups playing now) is run defense. So it wasn’t encouraging, even if there were a lot of soon-to-be free agents playing. The big plays against the defense were also a problem. Nothing is more fundamental for a defense than not giving up big plays, so no, it wasn’t a banner night for the defense. But again, this isn’t really the defense so whatevs (mostly).
It’s hard to get too worked up about anything in a preseason game, though it’s certainly fun to get hyped on new guys who did well (Hollister, Carr) and roast the shit out of those who stunk (Richards, Ealy, Cyrus). But everyone has to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and refocus on having a good week of prep and practice to face the Texans.
Still, football is back and an early significant step of the 2017 campaign is out of the way.
Less that four weeks til the opener. That feels good no matter how you cut it.