OK, so it’s only one game, and it’s a preseason game to boot, but it’s still exciting to see the Patriots playing a game on TV again. Because it’s the preseason and we’re watching so many different players, I’m going to change my regular format, and give you some positives and negatives from the blowout win over the Lions.
Jakobi Meyers repeating his camp performances: Everyone’s training camp darling has turned into everyone’s preseason darling. It’s getting increasingly harder to envision a roster without Meyers on it. He scored two touchdowns, and made some tough catches in traffic. Also, on his second TD, he made a real nice fake to the outside before beating his man inside and getting open at the goal line.
Defensive Aggressiveness: There are simply too many guys to name here. Young guys like Winovich, Cowart, and Shilique Calhoun all made their presence felt. The pressure was consistent all night, with the Patriots racking up nine sacks. Derek Rivers, who could be on the bubble, had two of them.
But the overall aggressiveness of the team is what I most happy about. The guys were flying around, and even though they finally let the Lions drive on the last possession, they only allowed a field goal. Everyone, from the D-line, to the linebackers, and defensive backs pitched in to play a fantastic game on defense. Jerod Mayo had the defensive play sheet, and did a really nice job dialing up the pressure at the right time and keeping the Lions off balance.
The quarterback situation : Jarrett Stidham looked pretty solid tonight. Obviously not perfect, but for it being his first game in the NFL, pretty impressive. He showed good accuracy, nice touch on his deep ball, and an ability to escape the pocket and run when necessary. Combined with the stellar play of Brian Hoyer, the Patriots look to have a great backup quarterback situation right now.
N’Keal Harry: He only made two catches before he left with a minor injury, but the two catches he made were pretty impressive. Similar to Meyers, he can go get the ball, and he was able to use his body to separate from defenders and make the catch. The injury is something that bears watching, but didn’t look serious.
Dan Skipper’s improvements: I probably could’ve given this to the entire offensive line, as they were stellar all night, but Skipper was someone who I was anxious to see play. The swing tackle position is still very much up for grabs, and Skipper was a guy I thought could be a candidate for a backup role. All he did was dominate with his size and strength all night. I watched him push guys around multiple times, and he was hardly ever beat around the edge. If he keeps up this play, Skipper will end up being the backup tackle this year.
Duke Dawson’s progression: The second-year corner got beat a few times, and was called for multiple penalties. One on a play where he still got burned, and one that wiped out a nice return by Braxton Berrios. After being injured and then redshirted last season, it was not the way Dawson wanted to kick off this season — especially with the depth the Patriots have in the secondary.
Stephen Gostkowski’s easy miss: Not sure if the missed field goal was a snap or hold error, but you never want to miss from inside the 40-yard line. He did rebound with a field goal from 23 out later in the game, but you can’t be missing pretty easy kicks, even if it’s only preseason.
Penalties: The Patriots had 12 penalties for a total of 135 yards, and those were just accepted penalties. They had multiple plays where they had two penalties on the same play, and obviously only one could be accepted. Now, it’s preseason, and a few were questionable, like the crack back call on Meyers, but you still never want to see 12 penalties and over 100 yards of penalty yardage in a game. This is something the Patriots will work on cleaning up, and something that you know Bill Belichick is very happy about, because he gets to remind everyone all week how undisciplined they were, even during that blowout.
Pat is a host of the Patriot Nation Podcast
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