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Patriots vs. Panthers: Fan Notes from the Preseason

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots 19-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

So...Week 3, eh?

I'm not going to lie - that was a pretty boring game. As excited as I was to watch this one I couldn't help but feel like this contest had an extremely lackluster feel to it as neither offense really got much going and drops, sloppy play, and penalties interrupted a small handful of good plays as the Patriots moved to 3-0 in the preseason. There were a few fun moments, but for the most part this game was just a big pile of blah. So get ready for this week's Fan Notes to reflect that.

  • Tebow bless the NFL for doing what they can to hype up these preseason games that are completely and wholly meaningless. Those pump-up videos with slow-mo replays and fire graphics are enough to get any high schooler scrambling to get an AV project done so they don't have to spend the summer in that trailer up on the hlll redoing remidial reading a solid C+.
  • I'm glad to see that the Walking Boss let Kevin Donnally out of the chain gang to work the sidelines for this game.
  • I can't shake the feeling that Jonathan Stewart has been in the NFL since the early 80s. There's just something about Carolina running backs and erroneously perceived longevity.
  • That Jimmy G throw intended for Edelman that almost got picked by Luke Kueckly was a prime example of why it's so important for Garoppolo to get reps with the ones. Edelman read the zone scheme and sat down in the hole between the linebackers, but Garoppolo thought he was going to continue running a cross route and threw it right off Kueckly's chest. Brady and Edelman would have been on the same page there.
  • There was also a 3rd and long play where Solder let his man through (again), Garoppolo stepped up to avoid the pressure, but his eyes fell to the pass rush and not the developing play.  These are the things that are going to cause problems when the game starts to matter.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, coverage sacks was the name of the game. Cam Newton had time to throw, but the secondary was tight and the receivers had to earn their yards. Logan Ryan was in Kelvin Benjamin's back pocket all night and the timing was off. The Patriots are going to have to rely heavily on this D early on in the season.
  • Seriously - this D looks solid. Chris Long might end up being the free agent signing of year if he can keep up this versatility and awareness.
  • Ghost missing two very makable kicks is nothing to worry about, right? Right?
  • I can 100% get behind the $4.99 dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme after every Panthers win. If it's one thing the American South needs, it's more cheap sugar.
  • Really glad to see Kelvin Benjamin back out there after the ACL injury. It's really hard not to love what that kid brings to the table.
  • I watched this game using my second consecutive free trial of NFL Game Pass, which for some absolutely inexplicable reason is the only way that anybody living outside of New England can watch these preseason games even if they pay a lot of money for DirecTV Sunday Ticket. And one element of Gamepass is no commercials; instead, the NFL logo pops up on screen with a "the game will be right back message" across the bottom, leaving me sitting there in absolute silence repeatedly every few minutes. And if you ever want to have a "have I made smart life choices?" moment, sit there in silence staring at a blue screen while you wait for the meaningless football game you finagled your way into signing up for to come back on as you wonder what normal people are doing on a beautiful summer Friday night.
  • What was that black thing hanging off Cam Newton's helmet? Was he wearing a Johnny Lawrence black headband?
  • Most embarrassing moment of the night: I saw a great catch and run by Aaron Dobson late in the 1st quarter that made me think that Jimmy G had great touch in between defenders and nice vision. Then I realized that Tommy B had been swapped out and it wasn't Garoppolo that made that throw. I promise you I will never mistake Tommy B for anyone ever again.
  • And what a throw to Chris Hogan for the first Brady to Hogan TD of 2016 - right into his lap. Watching that play after the preseason we've had so far was the football equivalent of getting a slice of New York pizza after a few weeks away; I mean, yeah, it was fine where I was, but you forget what you have until you experience it again.
  • I'm not ready to push the panic button on Nate Solder yet - but I'd be lying if I said my finger wasn't on it and I wasn't starting to apply pressure. He was slow to react on rips around the edge, got soundly beaten to the inside, and gave up a false start penalty to boot. He eventually just started throwing chop blocks as the third quarter got under way.
  • The girlfriend comment of the week: "why do all the cheerleaders wear ugly boots?" I can say with complete certainty that I have never once noticed the footwear of the lovely ladies of the NFL.
  • She also said of Tommy B as he sat on the sidelines fixing his hair: "he's just so sexy." So she clearly knows what she's talking about, and maybe I should pay closer attention to those boots.
  • I legit don't think that Ron Rivera opened his mouth for that entire game. I did see him move a few times, I think, so I can't compare him to Jim Caldwell...but come on, Ron. Have some fun with it!
  • Drops all over the place last night, from receivers and DBs alike.
  • Where do you suppose "Carolina Panthers preseason color commentator" ranks on the pantheon of sports broadcasters? Because last night's crew, whoever they were, were Dan Dierdorf slow and Phill Simms awful. Yikes. Makes me appreciate Christian Fauria.
  • Love that they brought Jimmy G on for the two minute drill before half. Don't love that his drives consisted of an overthrow, a fumble, and two kneeldowns.
  • The second half started with a lot of high percentage passes and strong runs from Blount while Clay Harbor ran back and forth behind the line of scrimmage as an extra blocker. That's likely what we're going to see against Arizona, and it's what Jimmy G needs to be comfortable with.
  • Hey, weird! Blount got stuffed on a short yardage play! At least they didn't try that stupid FB dive.
  • Once the 1st team defense went out for the night, the dropoff in production was palpable, particularly in run defense.
  • The lack of onside kick attempts in the preseason is mind-boggling. Why the hell not? If there was ever a play that could turn the tide of a season and needs all the real-time practice it can get, it's the onside kick.
  • I know Newton is a mobile QB and tough to bring down, but you have to make those sacks if you're getting penetration.
  • Limited, but impressive action from DJ Foster last night. I wish he had done more as a runner, as scat back is pretty well set at the moment.
  • New England didn't convert a 3rd down all game until Jacoby Brissett hit DeAndre Carter for a TD late in the 3rd quarter. No thanks.
  • Guys who needed to have big days: Foster, Justin Coleman, Jonathan Jones. None of them did. Of the three, I was most impressed with Foster, as he was good in space and showed good vision after the catch...but again, I just don't know if New England will spend a roster spot on another receiving back, or if he did enough to stick around. I hope so; I'd love to see more from him.
  • Keshawn Martin saw his first look of the entire preseason relatively late in this game, and I don't think that Knighton even sniffed the field. I have absolutely zero clue what the depth chart looks like right now.
  • Brissett's throwing style seems to be to look down the field for the deep ball first, then rifle one short when nothing is open.
  • What a sloppy, slow game overall. The lone offensive highlight was the Hogan TD, and the defense looks solid, but overall, that was a snoozer. And since it's Week 3 of the preseason, I think we all know what that means.
  • I'd be lying if I said I was really paying all that much attention once Brissett came in, as I decided to take a drink every time someone dropped a pass or had a ball bounce off their numbers and by the end of this game I was pretty hydrated. So I'm just going to go ahead and say the star of the game was...oh I don't know... this guy.