And so it begins.
Week 1 of the preseason is in the books, and the Patriots looked as good as can possibly be expected in what was nothing short of an absolute beatdown of the Detroit Lions. The score is completely meaningless, but any time a your offense puts up 30+ points, your defense registers nine sacks, and it’s an all-around strong performance, you have to be happy about that.
Until, of course, next week, when the Pats will get completely spanked by the Titans and Brady goes 0-7 and the first rumblings of “time for the Jared Stidham era to begin” start to surface. But for now...wheeeee!
As always, I only really had one eye on this game and didn’t go back to watch any replays or film, so take these Fan Notes as nothing more than the useless, wildly meandering ramblings of a manchild who has made some poor life choices.
As opposed to the regular season Fan Notes, which are the useless, only slightly meandering ramblings of a manchild who has made some poor life choices.
- Tom Brady was the sole captain to come out for the opening coin toss. He lost. That’s really, really not going to sit well with him.
- The good thing about the coin toss loss is it gave us a look at rookie camp phenom Jake Bailey right away. His first kickoff was a beauty, high and about a yard inside the end zone. That camp competition is tighter than everyone thinks.
- You know you’re a Patriots fan who has been spoiled rotten when “punter” is on your list of most intriguing camp storylines.
- If you’ve been following my writing over the years, you know that my favorite preseason activity is to play a little game I like to call “Who The Hell is That Guy?”, as I try to figure out which player belongs to which number and get to know the back end of the roster. Well I’m happy to say that I really threw myself for a loop the preseason when I targeted my first player of the year, some linebacker inexplicably wearing #8, only to quickly discover that it’s Jamie Collins. I know who the hell that guy is.
- For the record, I also know who the hell the other #8 is. Welcome to New England, N’Keal.
- Which is a fair time to warn everyone: now that the Patriots finally have a player named Harry, I’m going to be making Dumb and Dumber references relentlessly. I make them all the time anyway, but it’s time to step up my game. You’re all going to get sick of them very, very fast. They’ll always be funny to me, so there’s no way I’m going to stop. You’ve been warned.
- If only Brandon Lloyd were still on the team...Lloyd and Harry would have been unstoppable.
- Jermaine Kearse is simultaneously the reason why the NFL needs to shorten the preseason and get right the hell out with this nonsense of an 18 game schedule. These guys are already going through hell, and when a talent like Kearse goes down before the league year even starts it makes the entire league worse.
- Positives to take away from the defense:
- Strong push from the line. Quick bursts and were able to get low.
- The linebacking corps showed a ton of potential. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Collins were all over the place last night, both behind the line and moving laterally. There’s no sense in analyzing reads, packages, or positional groupings, but a guy either looks fast and prepared or he doesn’t. Very excited for this linebacker unit.
- J.C. Jackson. He wasn’t targeted much, but he was right on his man.
Seven EightNine sacks is seven eightnine sacks, any way you slice it.
- Positives to take away from the offense:
- Good protection from the line. Both Hoyer and Stidham had solid pockets.
- Crisp route running from receivers. Separation doesn’t matter as much at this point, but there were very few throws where a quarterback placed the ball where a receiver was supposed to be, but wasn’t.
- That legendary Hoyer-to-Harris connection.
- N’Keal Harry made the two best catches of the game, both in contested coverage.
- Braxton Berrios. Solid routes, good punt returns.
- Jakobi Meyers made the most of his reps and made contested catches. Both of his TDs saw him gain inside leverage.
- Negatives to take away from the defense:
- Bubble secondary guys didn’t really do anything to stand out or make a case for themselves, particularly Duke Dawson.
- Joejuan Williams with zero awareness and an absolutely inexcusable penalty, throwing Ty Johnson to the ground well out of bounds.
- Negatives to take away from the offense:
- Running game - I have nothing to say about it whatsoever. Not really a negative, I guess, but I was hoping to see a little more RB versatility. It was a whole lotta Brandon Bolden and Nick Brosette last night.
- Is it me, or does Nick Brosette sound like the name of a lacrosse player due in court next week for drunken and disorderly conduct?
- O-Line penalties. A few holds, a leg whip, and a few others.
- Harry, following his 25 yard grab, hobbled off to the medical tent. His preseason better be over. No need to try and triple stamp a double stamp.
- Doubly tough to really gauge offensive production in the passing game, as the Lions secondary was Disney-remake terrible.
- Every year, without fail, there’s a player whose name I just can’t spell right. Last year it was Cordarrelle Patterson. Michael Hoomanawanui gave me fits. This year, I have yet to type N’Keal Harry’s name right the first time. It always comes out as K’Neal. I hope I get there soon.
- Jakobi Meyers is messing with me too; it took me long enough to get Jacoby Brissett’s name right before they traded him, now they went and switched it up on me.
- And don’t even get me started on Ja’Whaun Bentley. A big concern this year is that Ja’Whaun Bentley and Joejuan Williams will team up to make a play and my keyboard will explode.
- Brian Hoyer had himself a nice night - 12 of 14 for 147 yards, 2 TDs, and a passer rating of 150.
- LOVE going for 2 after the Patriots went up 20-0. Why the hell not? No need to practice extra points.
- Waaaaay too early scouting report on Jared Stidham: strong arm, accurate, mobile. A little quick to roll out to his right, pocket presence isn’t there yet, holds onto the ball too long. Needs to sell the playaction better. But overall, tons of reason for optimism.
- Boy do I hope Shilique Calhoun continues to have a strong camp and becomes an impact player this year. “Calhoun” is just a really fun name to say. Especially if you draw it out. CAAAAL-HOOOOOON!
- The only way I could catch this game was to stream it with the Detroit home announcing duo calling the action. I can’t for the life of me remember who it was...but yuck. Made me appreciate Christian Fauria that much more. Every single play, they were calling for some kind of flag - holding, OPI, DPI, illegal pick play, tripping, you name it. Almost made me pine for Dan Fouts.
- Apparently the Lions jogged into the locker room at halftime to a chorus of boos from the fans in the stands. Booing your team after the first half of the first preseason game is an absolutely savage move.
- That said... late in the 4th quarter, the Lions had registered 0 sacks, 0 points, 0 plays over 20 yards, and negative 11 net passing yards. This preseason team has really fallen off from that undefeated 2008 juggernaut.
- Of the inanity that was the 2nd half, the big standouts were the Patriots receivers, and the crisp, accurate passes they caught from Stidham. Again, the Lions secondary was so bad that I feel like I can’t read too much into anything, but Harris could have had two additional TD catches (both contested, but catchable), Berrios was a terror over the middle, and even Dontrelle Inman reminded us all that he still exists.
- Inman isn’t going to make the team, but he’s a good player. Not all that sure where this “New England is thin at WR” is coming from.
- Chase Winovich showed some nice burst and speed. Got low and pulled a great rip to get to the QB.
- Speaking of pulling great rips...very much looking forward to all you can eat chili and hot dogs at Paddy’s of Park Slope on game days. If you live in the NYC area and are looking for a great place to watch all the NFL action, look no further.
- What’s the Golden Rule of the preseason? Let’s all say it together: If my team looks good, it’s a surefire sign that it’s going to be a great year. If my team looks bad, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s only the preseason.
- Given that rule...looking forward to an undefeated season. See you all in Miami.