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Patriots vs. Panthers: Fan Notes from the Preseason

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A few meaningless observations from Week 3 of the preseason.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Welp...

Tommy B finally took the field. The starters saw some action. Brandon King got hurt. Jake Bailey spawned so many Ray Finkle jokes that the internet briefly collapsed at about 3AM last night.

Did I miss anything?

  • I’m going to start off these notes with a nifty little hack for those who are out of market and don’t get Patriots preseason games: NFL.com offers a free trial of Game Pass, where you put your credit card in, but won’t be charged for the first seven days. If you sign up just before the game and cancel the free trial the day after, you get the game without having to pay anything.
  • That said...if your level of mania is such that you need to figure out these hacks so you can watch a preseason game live, seek professional help. Mention my name to any shrink in the area, you’ll get a good price.
  • As far as Week 3s of the preseason go, I think I gleaned the very least out of this one. Probably the most analysis-worthy item from last night was the defensive starters in that Chase Winovich was out there on third down getting penetration. Other than that, though...what did we see?
  • We saw some incredible running from Sony Michel. Seriously... don’t want to read too much into it, but Michel looked unbelievable. He seems to have added a jump cut and a little stutter step to his repotorie, and he showed incredible burst through the line.
  • Good news! Tommy B went to Jakobi Meyers deep on third down! Bad news: Meyers cut the skinny post short and didn’t read the safety sitting on the zone and missed out on what could have been a huge chance to make a massive splash with Brady right away.
  • Good news! Jakobi Meyers saw a lot of targets from Brady! Bad news: he didn’t do anything with them.
  • Good news! Sony Michel looked like a beast last night! Bad news: one of his best runs ever was cut short by a Jakobi Meyers hold.
  • I wonder how many “Not” or “Down” lists Jakobi Meyers is going to be on today when everyone does there Hot or Not or Up and Down lists. He looked solid with Stidham, but wasn’t where he was supposed to be on multiple occasions with Brady. Still love the upside, and Meyers is slated to be the 4th or 5th option at this point...but freaking out over preseason games is kind of what we do as Patriots fans. So get ready for a ton of articles about Meyers being the latest inductee into the Preseason Hall of Fame, destined to do absolutely nothing when the games start to matter.
  • And maybe that will be the case, to be honest; who knows. Preseason is just the stupidest thing ever - ask Brandon King and Cam Newton.
  • A personal highlight for me: watching the game on my tablet, there weren’t any commercials during TV timeouts, just a still shot of the field and audio of Scott Zolak and Bob Socci chatting. And if Zolak didn’t strike you as the guy at every backyard barbecue who shows up three in the hole and stands next to the grill in a neon tank top and jorts as he tells you when to flip the burgers before, he left no doubts last night.
  • There actually was a fair amount of radio static interrupting the broadcast last night. I blame Bill Belichick.
  • The biggest positive I’m taking away from this game is hands down the potential of this linebacking corps. The amount of talent and depth at that position is amazing, and on top of that one of the all-time great Patriots LBs, Jerod Mayo, is coaching up the group. If you’re a nerd for creative blitz packages and disguised zone schemes, I imagine the month of August has been your version of camping out for the latest Star Wars movie three weeks in advance.
  • I don’t know how much to read into this, but it it seems like the guys up front have been working on the pass rush moves this offseason. I saw swim moves, rips, shimmys, and stunts all over the place as opposed to just getting push and inside leverage.
  • Derek Rivers was on the injury report...based on what I saw from the defense last night, I just don’t see a spot for him on this roster.
  • On offense - it was great seeing Tommy B out there. It was even better seeing him jog to the sidelines and sit down with a clean jersey. The big Brady highlight of the night for me was the absolute laser he fired to Ryan Izzo on the game’s only TD drive. He also looked accurate and in command of the two receivers who actually dressed. However, this was as vanilla an offense as you’ll see.
  • One area where I do have some concerns regarding this team is the depth of the playbook on goal to go situations inside the five yard line. You can’t just hand it off every time, and I’m curious to see how N’Keal Harry, will work as a short-yardage red zone threat. I guess we’ll have to wait until September 8th to find out.
  • Robert Kraft is apparently now the Chairman and CEO of the Patriots as opposed to Owner. Has that always been the case? Did I miss a memo?
  • I don’t know if I’d read too much into Jarrett Stidham starting in relief duty of Tom Brady over Brian Hoyer. The Patriots know what they have in Hoyer. Stidham needs more reps. Marching him out there in the 4th quarter isn’t going to showcase his wares any more.
  • The real question now seems to be whether the Patriots keep two QBs or three.
  • Braxton Berrios didn’t even dress for this game. I could never get a read on Berrios; some folks loved him, other folks weren’t so keen. He flashed at times this preseason, but you have to wonder where he stands with Gunner getting the punt returns and the second team receiver looks over Berrios.
  • I really hope that Dan Skipper makes some positive plays this season, for no other reason than it will allow me to say “damn skippy, Dan Skipper!”
  • Did any of the members of the announcing crew predict a single penalty correctly? “Oh, this is a surefire hold here!” Offsides. “Blatant helmet to helmet hit!” Illegal hands to the face. “That’s a roughing call for sure!” Holding.
  • The second half of this game was an absolute snoozer, and I didn’t really pay much attention - not gonna lie. Seeing Deatrich Wise out there late was interesting, as was seeing JC Jackson seeing late action. Stidham made some great throws and continued to show mixed pocket awareness. FLAAAAAAAGGGGS. Yawn.
  • The Patriots’ 6th Championship banner is up, but it’s covered. I’m hoping they unveil that banner nice and slow, tease me a little bit.
  • I want Gunner Olszewski to make the team so he can play gunner on the punting units. Gunner as the gunner.
  • I don’t want Gunner Olszewski to make the team because I’m NEVER going to get the spelling of that last name right.
  • Does Gunner offer enough value as more than a return man? In a very crowded receiver group, is he worth a roster spot?
  • Based on this barnburner, next week’s game against the Giants should be a real blast. The Threes and Fours take on the Threes and Fours for maybe three available roster spots and a bunch of practice squads elsewhere. Week 1 can’t get here soon enough.

I know we’re all excited for football season - but this is the last summer weekend before Labor Day hits. So get out there and enjoy yourself..especially this Sunday. Just two more Sundays where you won’t have anywhere else to be but in front of a TV watching football, so get those rays in while you can.