So, the Patriots are now two games into the preseason, and there are a lot of things to talk about. Let’s get into my takeaways from week 2 of the preseason:
– Ja’Whaun Bentley might win Defensive ROY, Defensive POY, and MVP this season. After a strong showing last week, he was all over the field, making plays in the run and pass game, and scooped up a strip sack by Adrian Clayborn and took it to the house.
– I’ll wait until he actually makes some plays in the regular season to take my victory lap, but this is what I wrote the day he was drafted:
– Clayborn and his fellow rushers caused 5 sacks in the first half. The depth and athleticism of this defense was on display, and Trey Flowers wasn’t even on the field. If they can play this way in the regular season, this defense is going to be scary.
– Isaiah Wynn going down is a potential blow for the offensive line. Cannon still isn’t ready for game action, and even if he doesn’t start, it’s rare to make it through a season without at least one guy going down, depth is always a plus.
– The fringe corners and safeties did not play well tonight. In fact, one of the best players out there on that unit was Jordan Richards. That should be all you need to know.
– Keion Crossen in particular is an intriguing prospect because of his speed, but his coverage skills are severely lacking. Last week, he stopped in coverage because he thought he could jump and tip the ball away, but he couldn’t. This week, he was called for 2 defensive PI penalties in the span of 3 plays. Not great. Don’t be surprised to see him on the practice squad this season.
– Tom Brady was slinging the ball all over the field, and played almost the entire first half. It doesn’t look like Father Time has caught up with him yet. Not a fan of his new helmet though. I’m sure that it’s safer or whatever, but it just looks strange, he’s had the same helmet for 18 years.
– Eric Decker has not impressed me, or anyone else for that matter. He’s been with the 2’s, and hasn’t been able to crack playing time with the 1’s at all. The opportunities he has gotten have been marred by drops and inconsistencies. He’s going to need to really show something in these next two weeks if the Patriots are going to keep him.
– Jason McCourty was a little shaky in his first game action after a pretty good week of practice. Certainly won’t cost him a roster spot, but maybe second corner isn’t a positional battle that is over just yet.
– Jeremy Hill put the ball on the ground(it was recovered by the Patriots), but outside of that play, ran hard and I would be surprised if he doesn’t beat Gillislee out for a roster spot. His burst through the hole is legit, and he often makes the first guy miss, or at least fall forward a yard or two after first contact.
– Jacob Hollister will be on this team. He does too many things right not to be. That is all.
– Cordarrelle Patterson is fast as hell. He’s going to be a fun toy for McDaniels and Brady to play with. With his speed and size, I imagine they will be using him in many different ways. If those work early, expect to see them fake to him consistently to keep the defense honest. His move on his touchdown catch was just filthy. He knew he didn’t need to do much, since the defender was closing. Just threw him a quick fake to the outside, the corner had no help out there and had to respect it, and cut it back in to walk in for a score.
– The depth that the Patriots have on the defensive line is better than we’ve seen in a long time in New England. This is great for the upcoming season, but one name to keep in mind is Malcolm Brown. He stepped up and played well last year, but there are two factors here. It’s the last year of his deal, and Danny Shelton is on the team now too. If the Patriots feel like they won’t be able to reach the money Brown wants, or, if they feel Shelton is a better fit long term, don’t be surprised to see them move on from Brown before the start of the season.
– The leading with the helmet personal foul was on full display last night, and let’s just all agree that it’s an absolute embarrassment. There is no chance that rule can be officiated that way in any game that matters. You’re changing the entire sport of football.
– I feel like Bill Belichick may need to perform more science experiments so we all understand this: When you drop your shoulders, your head drops too. It’s not that difficult to understand. I certainly am not the Mona Lisa Vito of science(although I do teach math), but that seems pretty basic to me.
– Brian Hoyer is not great. There were some throws that he missed, but more important for me was the timing of some routes were off. There was a particular play when he targeted Decker on 3rd down. He had Decker open at the first down marker, but got the ball to him late. The defender was able to get in and make a play because he we late with the throw. This offense is all about timing, and Hoyer isn’t a dynamic playmaker. He’s going to have to rely on his throwing skills in the offense to be a capable backup. He really needs to clean up his performance by the end of the preseason, or most people will not be excited to have him as our backup this upcoming season.
The biggest thing I’m hoping for next game is for the Patriots to come out healthy. It’s great to look good, and even win these games I guess, but they don’t count, and they’re just preparation for the season. The last thing you want is to lose an impact player for you in a meaningless game.
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
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