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Patriots vs. Eagles: Fan Notes from the Preseason

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Notes, musings, and observations from Week 2 of the preseason.

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

2-0!

And nobody cares!

Maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age...but I’m starting to enjoy the preseason more and more with each passing year. Not only is it nice to watch a Pats game completely free from any stress or tension that accompanies the regular season and playoffs, but it’s also fun to watch the guys on the back end of the roster giving it their all as they try to earn a roster spot. Add to that the 2018 debut of Tommy B, and I’d say that last night was a lot of fun.

The fact that the Patriots looked great certainly didn’t hurt matters, either.

  • I rushed home for this game. I rushed home and then when the subway was delayed I got off at the next stop and spent $20 on an Uber so I wouldn’t miss kickoff. I did all this for a week two preseason game. I hope there’s a hotline out there for this kind of behavior.
  • Two games, two coin toss wins, two deferrals. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.
  • I decided about 45 seconds into the pregame coverage that I have officially had enough of Scott Zolak. Is he this bad on the radio broadcast? I’ll admit that he was mildly entertaining for a little while, but now I find him insufferable and it’s time to go back where he belongs. He’s basically the Pokemon Go of the preseason.
  • My favorite Scott Zolak moment of last night was New England’s first sack of Nick Foles, which was a delayed outside safety blitz by Pat Chung. Zolak somehow thought it was Claiborne, who was effectively blocked the entire time without even a hint of penetration, and Zolak stuck with him even through the replay showing him spinning around in circles, ineffective. Way to stick to your guns, Scott.
  • The startng defensive line was Deatrich Wise, Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown, Adrian Claiborne, and Derek Rivers. If Wise and Rivers can make a year two jump, that’s a line I’d put up against anyone else in the league. Claiborne got some great direct pressure against the Philly 1s and got my game ball for the night. He gets a strong initial push at the line and has overpowered guys for two weeks straight now. His strip sack of Foles was a simple inside rip move that allowed him to turn the corner and drive directly into the QB for the turnover.
  • The big offseason debate was where the Patriots would play Isaiah Wynn. Is he a guard? Maybe a left tackle? Where on the left side of the line will he find himself? So of course his first reps of the season are at right tackle.
  • And those might also be his last reps of the season, as I didn’t see his ankle get rolled and then the cart came out. I’m not a medical expert, but that usually means an Achilles injury. Wynn may be leading the way for Sony Michel once again as they both drive straight towards IR.
  • From a safety standpoint, I fully support Tommy B’s new helmet. From a fashion standpoint...I don’t know. Looks kind of doofy.
  • Well...as doofy as Tom Brady can look, that is. Which is still better than I have ever looked or will ever look.
  • I can’t help but think that, during the offseason when the suits are all discussing what to do for the following year, the question “how much are the fans and the players going to absolutely hate this? comes up on several occasions. And if the answer is “a lot,” they move forward. This helmet rule is completely absurd. I’m trying to think of a single sports decision made, at any time and across any sport, that was so immediately and universally reviled. My only hope is that officials are going way over the top with it in the preseason, as they have done with rule changes in the past, in hopes of getting teams used to the new style of play.
  • I mean, is there a way to lower the shoulder without also lowering the helmet? Is that what you’re supposed to do? Is the shoulder kind of attached to the head?
  • Otherwise...how many games are going to be decided by that new helmet rule? A team is down by two, driving from their own side of the field, when all of a sudden a 10 yard gain turns into a 25-yard gain because a defensive player made a tackle and suddenly they’re in field goal range. Our only hope is that the rule ends up allowing the Patriots to escape with a victory in an important game this year; that way, they’ll immediately address it next offseason and get rid of it.
  • If New England’s first drive is any indicator of how their year will go...draft James White in the first round of your fantasy drafts.
  • What I can legitimately take away from that drive, though, is chemistry from the offensive line. Solid blocking, good lateral movement, and I’m still trying to figure out how a man Trent Brown’s size can swing out and wall off a defender that quickly.
  • The only other time you see a bunch of large men all pointing to the same spot as vehemently as they do when they see a member of the offense commit a false start is when there’s an attractive woman who unexpectedly walks into a room after a particularly heinous fart just took place, and there just so happens to be a dog in the area.
  • Where was this defense last year???!!! Am I right? Am I right, guys? Guys? Anyone?
  • Is there a lamer take that that, anywhere? If you cover sports for a living and the subject of your radio show today (cough Felger cough cough) is going to be ripping on the defense from last year for not being aggressive enough, do us all a favor and move.
  • 3rd and short, Mike Gilislee can’t pick up the first. I have a feeling I won’t have to write that for all that much longer.
  • Good for Philly, I guess, trolling the Patriots regarding last year’s Super Bowl. I’ve always been more in the “just enjoy the win” crowd, personally, but if billboards and banners enhances your experience, then rock on.
  • The second Foles sack of the day was a straight up coverage sack. Something you always like to see.
  • Tommy B looks as mobile as I have ever seen him. I hear that happens when you hit the wrong side of 40.
  • How many times did Edelman motion back and forth across the back of the line? It’s almost like the coaching staff is trying to sneak some extra laps in as punishment for his suspension.
  • It looks like Cordarrelle Patterson officially has some serious competition for the player whose name I have the most trouble spelling, as I’d be absolutely amazed if Ja’Whuan Bentley wasn’t on the final 53 come September.
  • It’s not just the fumble return, to be honest; that play isn’t really much more than being in the right place at the right time. What’s most impressive about him is his lateral speed, the way he squares his shoulders at the line, and the way he attacks holes. Obviously way, way too early to say anything definitive, but I see a place for him in the regular rotation as a two down linebacker and matched up against backs who don’t represent definitive passing threats.
  • Back to Patterson, though. I still like him a lot as a blocking receiver, and he’s clearly a threat in open space. But he had a couple of easy drops, and I’m not really seeing separation on the crossing routes. I think he’s a lock to make the roster (famous last words), but I’m unsure if I see him as much more than a gadget play receiver and deep threat.
  • Offensively, the Eagles really didn’t do anything, in part because of an aggressive pass rush and in part because of overall inaccuracy from the quarterbacks. I’d like to say that the secondary was markedly improved, but I don’t know.
  • In terms of the twos...I’d say that there were players who hurt their cause more than they helped them. Cornerback Keion Crossen, already a long shot, drew two DPI calls on Philly’s first scoring drive that were both pretty boneheaded. Jason McCourty got burned on a quick cut route as well. Jomal Wiltz also got burned a few times.
  • I also don’t know about Eric Decker. I haven’t seen, or heard, anything about him in games or camp that indicates he’s on pace to be an asset for this offense.
  • I guess I should also mention Jordan Richards again here, who is pretty damn Brandon Merriweatherian in his angles and decision making...but he must have some kind of incriminating evidence against Belichick or something, because he keeps making the team.
  • I don’t like McCarron as a return man - he seems slow and indecisive with his cuts. What about Cyrus Jones? Will we ever see him on the field again?
  • Once again, as soon as the third quarter started, Zolak got distracted and starting playing with the telestrator and drawing grass skirts and coconut bras on Paul Perillo and Andy Hart, a move that even I find immature - which is saying something. And if there’s anything more annoying that trying to pay attention to the deep half of the roster as they play bad football while Zolak rambles on about who knows what, I have yet to find it.
  • Sweet Tebow Brian Hoyer is terrible. He’s just so slow to release the ball and his throwing motion takes forever. Open, in football terms, means a receiver has about a yard or so of separation from the DB, and that yard will get made up very quickly. If the mechanics are off, you get nothing but incompletions.
  • If you’re a quarterback who can roll out, you’ll have success against this defense. And if you’re a running back who can catch passes out of the flat, you’ll have success against this defense. That has been true for going on a decade now.
  • Brian Flores looks like the kind of guy who, in high school, would convince you to give him your lunch money just by staring at you without blinking for minutes at a time.
  • But Flores might also represent a change in defensive philosophy. Patricia led-defenses were often of the read-and-react variety, focused on keeping the play in front of them and funneling offenses towards making mistakes. What we saw out of the defense last night was aggressiveness, a focus on collapsing the pocket, and a reliance on overpowering offensive lines. So, for as far as I can tell from watching one half of a defense that did absolutely zero gameplanning and is still working through the rotation, this defense is going to be just fine.
  • I hope Nick Foles is OK. Every time a good NFL player gets injured in the preseason, a puppy gets sick.

We all know what’s coming up next...Week 3. The whole season rides on next week, so I hope the team can put this win behind them and start preparing for the most important game of the their lives.