The New England Patriots defeated the Chicago Bears with a final score of 23-22. The Patriots did a great job after a slow first quarter and there were many things to like about the young players on the team.
Here are the winners and losers from the game.
Winner: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo was excellent in his second start of the preseason and really settled into his rhythm. He was completing passes at all levels of the field, he was going through his reads, and he was feeling pressure in the pocket. He showed poise that was missing last week against the Saints, and showed a version of a quarterback that could win in the regular season. He finished the night 16 for 21 for 181 yards and a touchdown.
Loser: OG Josh Kline
Kline started at right guard in the place of Shaq Mason and was a disappointment. He let up multiple pressures in the passing game and missed a few blocks that ruined running plays. Mason was definitely better versus the Saints, so it looks like Kline should be relegated back to super-sub moving forward.
Winner: RB LeGarrette Blount
Blount needed a strong outing after Tyler Gaffney stole headlines against the Saints, and he definitely delivered. Blount collected 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, after picking up a measly 20 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries the prior week. He was strong, decisive, and destructive. He needs to play at this level for the rest of the year.
Loser: WR Aaron Dobson
Dobson collected 1 reception for 10 yards after playing the entire time with Garoppolo. That’s not the production you’re looking for with the first team offense, especially when Garoppolo was being so productive. He needs to do a lot more in order to win a roster spot.
Winner: OG Joe Thuney
Thuney was, yet again, the best offensive lineman on the field. He’s dominant in the run game and he’s terrific as a pass blocker. Possibly even more importantly, his presence allowed left tackle Nate Solder to settle down and it seemed like the left side of the offensive line was better than it’s been in two or three years.
Winner: ED Trey Flowers
Flowers built off of his great outing against the Saints and destroyed the Bears first team offensive line. He can handle a starting role and it seems to be a matter of time until he’s taking over the defense. His availability could make it easier for the Patriots to walk away from Jabaal Sheard if he receives a huge contract offer in free agency.
Loser: DT Terrance Knighton
Knighton needed to have a good day with Alan Branch suspended and unavailable, but he put together a second-straight disappointing outing. He was swallowed up by double teams and didn’t really make many plays. Markus Kuhn and Vincent Valentine both showed better anchors against the runs and disrupted the pass. The performance of the next player might put Knighton’s roster spot in jeopardy.
Winner: DT Anthony Johnson
Johnson came out of nowhere to be extremely disruptive in the passing game with a sack and a QB hit. He plays a different role than Knighton, but Kuhn’s ability to play both defensive tackle roles could open up space for Johnson, who seems like a possible fit in Dominique Easley’s third down function.
Loser: WR Devin Lucien
Lucien played with Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots decided to let the two practice the deep ball. Now not every pass was perfect; Brissett delivered a ball that was slightly out of bounds on the left sideline on one pass. But this is the stat line:
Brissett tonight when targeting anyone other than Devin Lucien: 9 of 10 with one drop.— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 19, 2016
Brissett when targeting Lucien: 0 of 3, plus one OPI
Lucien actually had his hands on most of these, but it reminds me a bit of Josh Boyce’s performance in last preseason- in the right spot, but unable to complete the catch. There are a few receivers that are more deserving of a practice squad spot over Lucien at this point in time.
Winner: TE AJ Derby
Derby continues to make plays and registered 71 yards and a touchdown on 6 completions. He somehow caught this, too:
WAKE UP A.J. DERBY pic.twitter.com/Ouk2rI2fc6— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) August 19, 2016
Derby is competing with Clay Harbor for the 3rd tight end role, and Harbor is clearly a better blocker at this point. But Derby is consistently making plays and doing what he has to do in order to make the roster.