The Patriots started their preseason off with a bang in a battle with the Redskins. They fell to a 17-0 deficit to the Redskins early on, and battled back for a 26-17 victory. It definitely looked like a rusty start, and Bill was not happy with it either. But they found a way to turn it around in the second half. They had no Brady and no Gronk, but many more of the starters played through the game than usual.
Almost nothing in the passing game looked impressive. Neither Hoyer nor Etling looked great, and the running game really carried the offense. Jeremy Hill looked very good, running downhill hard and finding holes all through the first half. He added a good catch and run on a big third down as well as a rushing TD, and looks like he might secure that early down back role on the team. Ralph Webb also looked impressive late in the game, but I don’t know if scoring twice on the 3’s and 4’s constitutes a roster spot, but should be considered for a practice squad spot. Mike Gillislee was less than impressive, and might find himself on the outside looking in. The only receiver that really looked impressive was Devin Lucien. This is his 3rd year in the system on the preseason roster, and he might make a case to be on the final roster if he can keep this up. He was running crisp routes and he also racked up some YAC on a big late drive in the 2nd quarter. Nothing too impressive came out of Eric Decker or Phillip Dorsett, and if they don’t do more they might be odd guys out. There also was not much out of Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron, who look like good Patriots. Once the backup QB’s really get going we might see more. The o-line looked very solid though, and Trent Brown held up Hoyer’s backside well. However, I hope we never have to watch that man pull on a sweep ever again. Have you ever seen a building move? Yeah me neither. Keep him to just being a mammoth.
The defense was very average, and a few names stood out. Ja’Whaun Bentley was impressive. He was filling gaps and always flew to the ball. His one area of work he needs to improve upon is coverage, and I did not think he was even that bad in that area. He was always right there with the receiver, and never allowed any yards after the catch. If that’s where he is in preseason week 1, he can only get better. Hightower played well into the second half, and also was on the edge mostly. This means he is probably rusty after last years injury, and it might also mean they really liked what Bentley did in the middle. Elandon Roberts did not seem to stand out much, and I want to see more out of the other rookie linebacker Christian Sam in the coming weeks.
Lawrence Guy looked like he’s really fighting for his starting spot back, as he was all over the field, with a sack and stopping the run well. Trent Harris had a great strip sack at the end of the game which Geneo Grissom should have taken for 6. The DBs were disappointing though. Colt McCoy is not as good as he looked last night. Gilmore was not great but maybe he just needs to work out some kinks. Keion Crossen got absolutely toasted late in the second quarter which led to a TD. Most of the guys they raved about in camp in the defensive backfield really were not impressive. Ryan Lewis and Duke Dawson looked pretty good, but that’s about it. Lets hope Jonathan Jones and Eric Rowe are ready to go because nobody looks ready to steal their spots.
The overall most concerning part of the first preseason game is the fact that guys like Marquis Flowers and Eric Lee did not even start in this game, yet they played in key snaps in the SUPER BOWL. I understand there were some injuries, but if these guys played in that game and now aren’t worthy to play in a preseason game, but Malcolm Butler couldn’t play in the Super Bowl, then maybe Bill really has lost it. But that’s an argument for a different day, Pats are undefeated and we’ll leave it at that.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)