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Patriots vs. Titans: Fan Notes from the Preseason

Some meaningless observations from Week 2 of the preseason.

New England Patriots v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There was once a time, many years ago, where I would have grumbled about a Saturday night preseason game. I mean...Saturday night! Time to go out! Hit some bars! Make a fool out of myself! It was always a tough conversation with my degenerate friends as to why I couldn’t come by for a very different kind of pregame, or why I’d be late coming out. It takes a special kind of nutjob to spend their Saturday watching a preseason game instead of enjoying the beautiful August weather...but whether I like it or not, I am just that nutjob.

Now that I’m an old man, though, I can’t think of many better ways to spend a lazy summer Saturday than watching a Patriots game in which I don’t have to worry about wins, losses, records, or anythig like that. I prefer to do my hydrating in the comfort of my own home these days, and a few beverages and a Patriots game.

  • If the Lions game in Week 1 was the ying, then this game was decidedly the yang. The Patriots didn’t really do much of anything, committed a ton of penalties, gave up a safety, and nobody on the bubble really stood out or took full advantage of his reps.
  • The MVP of the night? Mike Vrabel’s mustache. If head coaching doesn’t work out for Vrabel, he has a bright future as a state trooper or a 70s-era adult film star.
  • It’s usually during Week 2 of the preseason, where a number of the starters get at least a few meaningful reps, where I get a fond glimpse of what it’s like for a more mentally stable Patriots fan to watch a Pats game. Enjoy rooting for the team, have fun watching the game, hoping for a win but not overly concerned about the result. Must be nice.
  • This Week 2, though...I think you could count the number of legit starters who saw the field on one hand.
  • Byron Cowart might have gotten Rodger Saffold cut with his first sack of the day.
  • Well...not really. Saffold is a solid tackle. But that’s the kind of keistering that’s going to take a while to come back from.
  • I appreciate what Scott Zolak brings to the table as a color commentator and his energy on the radio game call...but I also feel like he’s the kind of guy you could sit in front of a cardboard cutout of a person with an interested look on his face and he’d just talk until he either completely lost his voice or straight up passed out mid-sentence. If he doesn’t have a nickname, I’d like to throw out Scott “Yes, I’d Like to Make a Comment” Zolak into the mix for consideration.
  • The Titans got the ball first, and punted. The Patriots got the ball and turned it over. Then the Titans punted again. Three possessions, no commercial break. It was glorious. Take notes, NFL during the regular season.
  • Offensively, very little to glean here. Lots of checkdown throws. Might be some cause for concern on interior lineman depth. Isaiah Wynn looks solid, and very technical with his foot movement and hand positioning. Damien Harris has a nice cutback and gap vision. I like Brandon Bolden’s multicolored deadlocks. Ted Karras looks like a Viking. James Ferentz looks like Mugsy from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.
  • After the two point conversion, Tommy B jogged down the sideline, and I thought he was doing so solely to congratulate Jakobi Meyers on the reception. That wasn’t the case...but if it had been, it would have been all the evidence I needed to mark Meyers’ roster spot in ink.
  • Defensively, I have even less to say, if that’s even possible. The Patriots blitzed a lot, which was nice, although they got burned on out routes. Poor push at the interior led to productive runs from Tennessee. Lots to like about Chase Winovich.
  • I say this every year...but it’s absolutely absurd that illegal hands to the face is an automatic first down. Just make it a 5 yard penalty.
  • I think my favorite play of the night was the 5.1 hangtime punt out of the end zone from Jake Bailey after a two minute drive from Stidham that I’m now convinced was called just to make Jake Bailey punt out of the end zone. Not only was the ball in the air for over five seconds, forcing a fair catch, but it went over 60 yards. What a leg on that kid.
  • As for the best moment of the game, it actually occured at halftime, when Steve Burton failed MISERABLY at interviewing Bill Belichick. Burton made the inexcusable mistake of leading with a question about Josh Gordon, asking if Belichick had anything to add to his original statement. Belichick’s answer: “No.” It was all downhill from there. God I love that man.
  • The biggest consistency for Jared Stidham between Week 1 and last night is his decision making in the red zone, particularly inside the 10. When the amount of space the secondary has to defend shrinks like that, it’s a lot easier for safeties and DBs to break on the ball if a quarterback looks down his receiver too hard. That TD should have been a pick-six for Tennessee. Stidham could have had three picks last night.
  • I’m very curious and excited to see how the team utilizes Chase Winovich this season. Last night he played almost exclusively on the edge as a down lineman, but he has catch-up speed and a great motor. It’s an incredibly deep group, at both the D-Line and linebacker position, and while Winovich is a roster lock, I don’t know where he’ll see the most reps.
  • The third and fourth quarters of this game was a veritable Who’s Who of Who’s That. The only time I’ve seen a more random group of numbers with no logical order to them I was at the DMV waiting my turn to get my license renewed.
  • There is some real talent on this team that won’t be around this time next month.
  • Speaking of not here next month - best of luck, Duke Dawson. Say hi to Ras-I Dowling, Jonathan Wilhite, Tavon Wilson, Cyrus Jones, Jordan Richards, Gus Scott, Darius Butler, and Terrence Wheatley for me.
  • Ironically, the most entertaining drive of the entire game was New England’s last scoring drive of the day. Lots of well-sold playactions, effective screens, some nice receptions from Meyers, and a drive that started from inside the five yard line ended with a Patterson TD reception. Too bad everyone with any sense of self respect had already turned the game off by that point.

This is going to be a very interesting round of cuts. But no sense getting ahead of myself; Week 3 of the preseason is upon us. It’s the biggest week of the year!