This is the first edition of my 'on the fly' notes taken throughout the game. I know this is fauxball not football, but the Flying Elvis is back baby, so strap in and listen to the deranged mind of a Pats fan who should have been put out to pasture years ago.
The first preseason game of the year doesn’t mean a whole lot, especially when Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, etc. were healthy scratches, so let's not read too much into this. That being said, we're off! Here are some observations.
The Jags hit a big special teams play, returning Ryan Allen's first punt 41 yards, creating a short field. Bill Belichick always stresses all three phases of football, and the Pats special teams unit usually ranks near the top of the league. He wont be happy to see a play this right away, especially by players out there fighting for roster spots.
Leonard Fournette was running hard early, hitting the correct lanes with his fearless style. He has the look of a future bell-cow back in this league. He shouldered the load on the second Jags drive that led to a FG.
The Jags added a big play score when Cyrus Jones got worked for 97 yards. Hate to see that. We need a huge second year jump from this guy. Apparently changing your number doesn't help you cover double moves.
Jimmy G tapped into his inner Tom Brady and worked his three timeouts, putting together an impressive 2 minute drill to score. I was very excited to see him get a chance at the hurry-up. He looked in command the whole time and the touchdown was the cherry on top.
The defense played OK, but they had their hands full with Jacksonville’s running game. You can tell the Jags are committed to power football with Chris Ivory, Fournette and TJ Yeldon. No defenders really stood out to me, but the unit was competitive. On a few plays Blake Bortles had WAY too much time to throw. Getting pressure on the QB will be an important issue for the Pats all season.
Even though the offense stalled out on their first drive, I thought Jimmy G played pretty good. He generally looked quick and elusive, although we limited him a lot with the play calling. A lot of screens and short throws that made Brady a legend. He did uncork a few deep balls to Devin Lucien but nothing was there for the taking.
Austin Carr was one of my guys to watch and he did not disappoint. He was an asset to Jimmy G with those soft hands. I think I saw Brady’s eyes get bigger with that TD catch. He may have a shot at making this team even with a stacked receiving corp.
The running game was pretty even between Brandon Bolden and Dion ‘Squirty’ Lewis. Both looked pretty darn good. I wonder if there is space on the roster for two more backs when James White, Mike Gillislee, and Rex Burkhead are roster locks.
The Patriots struck first with what seemed like a ‘take the game by the throat’ type of drive. Jimmy G came out firing and we put 7 on the board right away. It didn’t last long because the defense immediately let up a HUGE 79 yard running play on the Jags first snap of the half. That was ugly. I'm sure Bill can find a teaching moment or two in there.
The Patriots looked poised to score again but a DJ Foster fumble stopped that drive. Jacksonville struck back a few series later with another big play through the air for a 43 yard TD over our favorite DB, Cyrus Jones, that essentially did us in.
I was surprised to see Jimmy G back out for the second half as I had expected to see Jacoby Brissett. Jimmy looked like his best self IMHO. In control of the offense and moving the ball. Brissett came in on the third drive and looked lost initially with a three and out. Then he came back and made some plays, engineering a TD drive and coming very close to another. I expected him to tuck and run more but he seemed committed to standing in the pocket.
I still think DJ Foster is a future Danny Woodhead, but that was a bad look to fumble in the red area. As James White said his rookie year, "Ball security is job security." In a crowded backfield, putting the ball on the ground is a one way ticket out of here. Hey DJ Foster, how many feet are in a mile? How many feet are in a mile?! 5,280! You pick this ball up and run every one of them!
The defense had some major lapses and will need to stop giving up the big play. That's been the bread and butter of this unit for years. They played the run pretty well, and besides giving up two more huge plays, they kept Jacksonville at bay.
Here are a few bonus thoughts:
I think New England Ford Patriots Gameday is my favorite show.
The one worry about Deatrich Wise is that he can’t stay healthy. Seeing him laid out on his back was tough. Looked like a concussion so let’s hope for the best.
Harvey Langi has the wild eyed look we saw in Tedy Bruschi back in the day. He showed a nice rush coming off the edge. I thought he was a middle linebacker? We know Bill loves versatility. Being able to get pressure kept Kyle Van Noy and Shea McClellin on the team last year.
Grit Team Captain: Jacob Hollister. He had a great catch while getting popped and jumped over a dude like a hurdle.
Unofficial Cyrus Jones scoreboard: 1 punt return, 6 kickoff returns, 7 successfully fielded catches, 1 time getting torched for a 97 yard tuddy, 1 time getting torched for a 43 yard tuddy.
Guys I like: Austin Carr, LeShun Daniels, Harvey Langi, Jacob Hollister