The New England Patriots can feel pretty good about their preseason performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. After dominating their opponent on both sides of the ball pretty much from start to finish, they traveled home to Foxborough with a 35-0 victory in hand.
One significant reason for that win was the Patriots’ ability to move the football through the air — something that has not always been the case last season and even during this week’s joint practices with the Eagles. Led by incumbent starting quarterback Cam Newton and first-round rookie Mac Jones, the team’s offense found plenty of success on Thursday, though, and was never truly challenged by a defense that rested some of its best players.
While that certainly has helped New England matriculate the ball down the field, Newton and Jones still looked good regardless of the circumstances: Newton showed some great velocity on his throws, while Jones displayed his advanced confidence to operate the system given his age and limited experience.
Newton himself had some positive words about the unit’s performance as well after the game.
“I think the whole offense did a pretty good job today. From the first, second, third group, and I think we did play great complementary football as a team,” he said during his postgame press conference.
“From the first drive, having a short field, being backed up. Our first job as an offense is to get a first down. Once we got that first down that’s when everything also got rocking and rolling; and really starting the second half with some points too. So, all those keys to victory, we go over and it’s just great to see it coming to fruition tonight and just to see it close out. Outside of the fumble, it was pretty much a flawless night for us offensively.”
Going primarily against backups and players without much of a future within the Eagles’ organization, the Patriots finished with 35 points as well as 486 yards. Of those, a net of 279 came via the right arms of Newton, Jones and third-string QB Hoyer.
Newton, who played exclusively with the starting offense, was impressive. Going 8-for-9 as a passer for 103 yards and a touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, he set the tone for the entire unit. Mac Jones — 13-for-19 for 146 yards — kept the momentum going after he entered the game in the second period.
“One of our keys each and every week is to start fast. Given the opportunity, we had pretty much good field position. We just had to uphold our end of the bargain,” Newton said.
“Coach challenged us in the passing game, just to be more efficient. That what we just tried to do. Throw and catch. Having good discipline in the zone defenses, in the man-to-man defenses, and whatever they threw at us. That’s what we just tried to do.”
The Patriots did it, and along the way answered their coaches’ challenge. With the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins a little more over three weeks away, this is a positive development even if it came against backup players.
“I think Cam, Mac, all of us, I think we’re all getting better day by day, honestly,” said Jakobi Meyers. “Last year, [Newton] kind of got the short end of the stick, just being thrown into a situation, no preseason or anything. Not trying to make excuses for him, but I think this year is definitely a leap forward and I think we’re all growing as an offense. We’re all working towards putting a good product on the field for Miami.”
If it looks anything like Thursday’s the Patriots will likely be pretty happy with their product.