The Patriots’ 2017 preseason is over. We can stop worrying about premature injuries (we actually got a couple of those this year) and focus on the real football campaign which the team is about to undertake.
Yes, it’s September and as Bill Belichick says “it’s football time.”
The preseason finale against the Giants, featuring a full 90-man Patriots roster, was actually a fun game, albeit one that we’ll all instantly forget. The Patriots fell into a big hole, clawed their way back only to give up a game-winning field goal in the final seconds, losing 40-38.
Though a meaningless loss, there were some real issues to come out of this one. Unfortunately an injury to Cyrus Jones could cause significant problems when the Pats open up against Kansas City in less than a week. Without Julian Edelman and very possibly Jones now, the Patriots are missing their top two punt returners.
The mostly-scrub defense turned in another gross performance early on, picking up where they left off last week. At this point at least it makes a good chunk of the cuts a little easier. Jacoby Brissett, who was treading water as a possible cut in some people’s minds, turned in a roster-locking performance. His touchdown throw to Devin Lucien was a thing of beauty and it was a reminder how much promise Brissett showed in 2016 when he was thrust into the fire.
Otherwise, we can pick out a few players to focus on, but chances are most of those who played against the Giants are on the outside looking in.
Let’s wrap up the preseason with a final look at those who showed up in finale.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 1, 2017
Cyrus Jones likely suffered a torn ACL tonight, per source. MRI to confirm it in the morning, but the knee is swollen and in rough shape.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 1, 2017
— On a night where we thought we could relax because every important player was sitting, Cyrus Jones, the de facto number one punt returner, went down after a non-contact incident that looked frighteningly familiar to Edelman’s. That leaves the Patriots with Danny Amendola as their only real punt returner roster lock and we were already talking about protecting him as much as possible for clutch receiver situations. That gets a lot harder if he not only has to return punts but has to return, like, all of them. So it’s critical to figure what the hell they’re going to do about it. Maybe it’s Patrick Chung, but again, he’s a former fragile player who doesn’t really have a backup option who can do what he does. Does it open a roster spot for DJ Foster? It very well might, but it’s scary to think of a guy who might’ve been cut if not for an injury catching critical punts deep in the Patriots’ territory in a real game. No easy answer here, and the best choices all come with significant injury risk.
— Geneo Grissom was an enigma to me. He started the summer getting reps with the top defense but then get got hurt and went MIA, leaving us all to wonder if he really could see time on defense this year or if it was just him getting a look. Grissom played the distance against the Giants, and that’s sure not a good sign for him. I could still see him making the roster as a special teamer but any belief that he was playing defensive end this year is over. Grissom had a sack, but is just too slow to be a two-way threat off the edge.
— Congrats to Adam Butler. Any rookie who can go from undrafted to getting protected in final preseason game deserves a tip of the cap. Butler will see snaps on defense, hopefully he brings the same kind of disruption he’s brought all summer.
— Damarius Travis had a couple moments against the Giants. I think he could be a good practice squad option. Talk about a potential Chung backup…
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 1, 2017
— Jacoby Brissett isn’t going anywhere. It was easy to be dismissive of the second-year quarterback when we really hadn’t seen him all summer, but in his first full game since college Brissett did everything you could ask. Making plays with his arm and his feet, and showing great poise.
— I know many want to put Austin Carr on the roster but it was Devin Lucien who made the most impressive push in the finale. I’m just not sure Carr is the “get open quick guy” many seem to believe he is. Lucien seems just a little more polished. Will it be enough to beat out a potential punt returner like DJ Foster? I have my doubts.
— Kenny Moore is another player who I think could either sneak on the roster or be a practice squad priority (if possible). His skills as a gunner are noticeable, and nobody notices that kind of thing more than Bill Belichick. He plays bigger than his size and if Matthew Slater has any lingering effects from his hamstring injury this summer it might make sense to keep Moore around for his special teams savvy.
Outside of the first half against the Lions in Week Three of the preseason, there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about this preseason, and even that half included a season-ending Edelman injury. So I don’t know about you guys but it’s hard not to feel meh about the summer. Yeah they showed some character coming back in Detroit and (almost) against the Giants, but falling into those holes in the first place was troubling.
Not that that’s a big deal. The Patriots kept things largely under wraps, especially with Brandin Cooks. We only saw momentary glimpses of each running back, but we will have no idea how it will all come together. And I think we all know it will probably come together pretty awesomely.
Defensively I feel even more in then dark. Maybe that’s the whole point, but we know there will be some inexperienced pieces playing on defense this year. Overall the secondary, now the supposed strength of the defense, was up and down all summer. Is that real cause for concern? I really hope not. Because if we can’t count on the secondary to buy that extra second for new guys like Dietrich Wise, Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler to get after the quarterback, the defense could have problems getting off the field.
We’ll see if anything from this preseason means anything. Or if it’s all just meaningless warmups for next week.
We’re finally onto the Kansas City Chiefs and the 2017 season. Let’s go!