The New England Patriots lost their final preseason game to the New York Giants in a 16-13 pile of mush. There was some good football in the first half, followed by some sloppy play in the second, even though the Patriots kept a lot of the same faces on the field for both halves.
The Patriots scored one touchdown on a beautiful throw from Jimmy Garoppolo to Aaron Dobson down the sideline, which probably would have been called back during the regular season. Dobson almost had a second touchdown, but his grab in the back of the end zone was ruled out of bounds- although it likely would have been challenged during the regular season as his knee was down for a completion.
Newly acquired Tim Wright fit right in, the 6'4, 235-pound receiver running some basic routes and getting involved. He made four receptions for 43 yards, which wouldn't be a shocking stat line during his regular season.
Jimmy Garoppolo looked shaky, but good enough. He was throwing behind his receivers on crossing patterns, but was throwing great passes on vertical routes. He showed good mobility, but still needs to work on when he decides to give up on a play; too many times he was deciding whether or not to throw the ball away with a defender breathing down his neck. He's still growing, but tonight was just another piece in his development.
Zach Moore played very well. He was stout against the run, a nuisance against the pass, and versatile in multiple sets. As Michael Buchanan hurt his ankle, Moore solidified himself as the top option when Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones need a breather.
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson took the field for the first team and he oozed confidence. He was getting open at will and he looks fast as ever. I wouldn't be surprised to see him competing for all the offensive snaps by the second week of the season. Josh Boyce and Jeremy Gallon both look like they're destined for the practice squad.
With Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, and Ryan Wendell on the sideline, Josh Kline played the entire game at left guard. It was an up-and-down game for him. He had times against the Giants first team defense where he looked like he fit right in, but he was losing battles at the end of the game. Three of his defeats resulted in two sacks and an interception- definitely not a good result. On the other hand, Bryan Stork looked great at center and was the best Patriots offensive lineman on the day.
The linebacker battle is mostly resolved. Ja'Gared Davis, Steve Beauharnais, and Darius Fleming look to be the locks on the roster. Chris White played some special teams, but was taken advantage of when he played on defense. It's like the Patriots will trend towards youth and upside over White's pure special teams ability.
In the secondary, the Patriots continued with their four-corner set by playing Alfonzo Dennard at a safety position. The team is looking to field four corners in certain scenarios, as the other safety Devin McCourty can cover well. The Patriots have tried Dennard, Kyle Arrington, and Logan Ryan at the position, resigning the fact that Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner will be the only two corners not to slide to safety.
In the backfield, Brandon Bolden didn't make the trip and isn't injured, so his outlook on making the team is dim. James White is a lock and the Patriots tried to make him an integral part of the offense with 13 touches for 61 yards. Roy Finch looks like he has the best chance of stealing the fourth running back spot due to his explosion, as well as his involvement on special teams.
The main takeaway? The Patriots were able to walk away from this preseason with minimal injuries (speedy well wishes to Buchanan and James Morris), and many of their injured players are slowly making their way back to the field. The Patriots will have some difficult decisions to whittle the roster down to the final 53, but tonight's game answered a lot of questions.