Football is back!
If you’re a sane person, you watched very little, if any, of last night’s game between the Patriots and Jaguars. A lot of starters weren’t playing, it was a beautiful night, and this game is about as meaningful as my semi-regular resolutions to take up jogging. But as I established long ago, I am not a sane person, and so I sat through every minute of this matchup.
However, I only watched the game once; it’s not like I went back and broke down game tape or anything like that. Only Rich Hill is that much of a nutjob. So this issue of Fan Notes is really more of a string of meaningless observations than anything else.
You know, since my regular season Fan Notes are so much more spot on.
- It was hard not to notice the way the defensive line got pushed around like they were on skates and the way that the linebackers overcommitted to the gap like a bunch of suburbanites on Black Friday. I also couldn’t help but notice that the middle of the field was wide open for those shallow crossing routes. Neither of those things concern me. However, was does raise red flags was the way that the cornerbacks and safeties channeled their inner Brandon Merriweather and took HORRBILE angles on the under routes and RB cutbacks, none more clear than that 70+ yard TD run right after the Patriots drove down and scored to start the half. None of the safeties that played are expected to see significant time, but still - one of the most important parts of being a safety is not letting anything by you.
- Speaking of letting stuff by... how about Cyrus Jones getting beat off the line and looking for the ball before the receivers hands started to go up and got smoked for a 97-yard score. That’s just DBing 101. Can’t be good for his confidence.
- He followed that score by immediately running back the ensuing kickoff from deep in the end zone and got stopped inside the 10.
- On the plus side, he fielded punts cleanly last night. I feel like he tripled his total from last year already.
- I forgot how much fun it is to play the “who the hell is that?” game, as by the time the actual season rolls around I know the name, number, turn ons, home addresses, and credit scores of every single man on the Patriots roster. But when I see guys out there wearing numbers usually reserved for orders at a Chinese takeout have to wait to see what the back of their jersey says before realizing who they are, it takes me back to simpler times. Times when I actually enjoyed football and didn’t spend nights after a loss staring at the ceiling until 4AM.
- I’ll tell you who isn’t a member of the “who the hell is that” crew - Dion Lewis. And I found myself very much wishing he was on the “I don’t play in the preseason” crew. What the hell he was doing in there into the 2nd quarter is anybody’s guess - especially with that Scarneccenstein O-Line experiment going on right now. I’m hoping that Lewis asked for those reps to test his knee and hamstring.
- It’s never more obvious that it’s preseason for everyone when the camera cuts in and out and you can hear the commentators having what they think is an off-air conversation. The person with the most airtime last night was a little kid sitting in his dad’s lap and I don’t think anybody had the slightest clue he was on TV. Sloppy job, guys. But that’s OK - I know you’ll have it together by September.
- I’m all about giving credit where credit is due - and as much as it pains me to say it, I have to give Roger Goodell a lot of credit. It was a stroke of absolute genius for him to show up to Gillette for this game. Now it’s a storyline, people will be talking about it, there wasn’t a huge crowd there to boo him, and now
whenif he comes to Foxboro for the Thursday night opener, some of the initial shock value is gone. It’s still not going to stop the crowd from booing him mercilessly when the time comes...but this is going to soften the blow a bit. That’s brilliant.
- I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the offense, which was just as vanilla as the D was. Jimmy G took a few shots deep, but for the most part the TEs were used as blockers (although Hollister had a nice grab in the second quarter when he read the hole in trhe zone on the seam route and sat down for a 1st down) and all we really saw were stretch runs and rollouts. And that’s fine with me; the preseason is more about reading whether or not guys understand the nuances of football, not installing offensive schemes and gameplans.
- My award for Random Guy You Probably Won’t See After August But Had a Helluva Game Award goes to Austin Carr. An undrafted rookie out of Northwestern, he finished the day making a very solid case for keeping him around. I just don’t think there’s any room for more receivers on the roster right now...but maybe he’ll sneak onto the practice squad.
- That said, the possessions that bookended halftime were great. Leaving a TE wide open certainly helped, but it represented the offense being in rhythm and every man doing his job.
- Speaking of TEs...excuse me for not falling in love with Jacob Hollister just yet. Anyone who remembers the preseason Zach Sudfeld had not too long ago will agree with me.
- I’d love to know what And Hart did to get his job. I say with the utmost confidence that I can do his job better than he can. If anyone with the Patriots media staff is reading this right now, bring me in for an audition. I can stand there awkwardly and spout off incorrect takes with the best of them.
- I do like Christian Fauria in the booth, though. He’s infinitely better than Simms (not that that’s saying anything), and as a TE in the New England system he has a good knowledge of how the Patriots operate.
- By the time Jacoby Brissett came on, it appeared as if everyone was more or less ready to mail it in. And by “everybody,” I mean me. I started to spend more time watching and less time writing, and...well, it’s preseason for me too. So screw it. Just work on your throwing mechanics and pocket awareness before the next game, Jacoby.