FOXBORO, Mass. – When the most exciting event of the night is Cisco Brewers giving the media free four-packs of Forever New England IPA’s, then it’s a sign that the NFL preseason needs to go.
The Patriots beat the Panthers 20-10 on Friday night, bringing them to 1-1 in the preseason with one more grueling game left to go next week.
Here’s an outline of the scoring drives from the night:
Panthers 3 – Patriots 0 | 9 plays, 55 yards – Zane Gonzalez 27-yard FG
Panthers 3 – Patriots 7 | 10 plays, 81 yards – Ty Montgomery 2-yard TD
Panthers 3 – Patriots 10 | 11 plays, 86 yards – Nick Folk 38-yard FG
Panthers 10 – Patriots 10 | Tae Hayes INT returned for a TD
Panthers 10 – Patriots 13 | 7 plays, 25 yards – Tristan Vizcaino 51-yard FG
Panthers 10 – Patriots 20 | DeMarcus Mitchell fumble recovery for a TD
Though tonight was sort of a dud, there’s still plenty to takeaway. Here are my top five thoughts from Friday’s game:
5. Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne were both absent
Two of the Patriots most prolific pass-catchers from a season ago did not suit up for tonight’s de-facto dress rehearsal against the Panthers.
Tight end Hunter Henry has been nursing an injury. He left Tuesday’s practice early and missed all of Wednesday’s, so him not being out there tonight wasn’t a surprise to many. It’s not smart to get your QB’s security blanket hurt in the preseason.
The mystery, however, was the absence of Kendrick Bourne. Bourne was involved in a fight at Patriots practice on Tuesday and was subsequently demoted to the second-string on Wednesday. Now? He didn’t even suit up for their game on Friday.
With rumors continuing to swirl about the Pats potentially moving off of a WR – this one’s really making me think. We’ll have to wait and see what pass-catching decisions will come over the next few weeks.
4. Pats new offense was very hit-or-miss… against Panthers backups
The Patriots ran three drives with their “starters” – scoring one TD and going three and outs on the other two possessions. The catch here? Carolina was playing with their 2’s and 3’s.
Mac Jones finished the night 4-8 for 61 yards, and saved his performance with this over-the-shoulder dime to Nelson Agholor for 45 yards:
Ty Montgomery scored his first touchdown as a Patriot, playing as the team’s third running back with the 1’s. He ended the night with 4 carries for 13 yards and 1 catch for 5 yards.
We didn’t see much, but what we saw wasn’t spectacular. Hopefully a few practices against Vegas and potentially a few more game reps can get this offense ready for Miami week one.
3. Jalen Mills is a CB1
Cornerback Jalen Mills continues to be the real deal, and he showed it tonight against game speed. He locked up the Panthers wide receivers religiously – so much so that QB P.J. Walker didn’t even target him.
As I mentioned earlier this week, continuing the run of quality CB1’s after Revis, Gilmore, and Jackson is highly important to the Patriots success on defense. Jalen Mills looks like he can fall right in line behind those guys.
2. Matt Patricia is the teams play caller for 2022
After much speculation following last week’s game against the Giants, it’s looking more and more like Matt Patricia is going to be the Patriots permanent offensive play caller… for 2022.
Matty P. called the plays the entire game on Friday night with Bill Belichick and Joe Judge in his hip pocket.
Earlier in the week, I outlined what I think is going to happen with the Pats staff beyond 2022:
In my opinion, they’re grooming Matt Patricia to be Bill Belichick’s replacement at head coach, and Joe Judge to be the next offensive coordinator – and I think it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
Matt Patricia already knows how to call an NFL defense. He grew up on it during his first stint here – learning all of the intricacies, schemes, and in’s and out’s that could be thrown at him – right next to the greatest coach of all time.
And last season – when Matt Patricia was Belichick’s right hand man in the front office – for a full season he learned every thing that you need to know about being a general manager. He was in the room for roster cuts, trade negotiations, and salary cap decisions.
Now this year – he learns the offense, and will have the ability to call the plays if and when he has to. I predict that the role eventually is handed to Judge – once they feel Patricia has the appropriate grasp.
It looks like, at least to start, they’ll let Judge learn from afar and Patricia learn with live bullets.
1. To be blunt – I have no idea what to make of this team after two games
It’s so hard to get a feel for a team in the preseason – especially when it’s the Patriots.
The defense looks fine, the offense looks meh, the coaching staff is a smorgasbord, and frankly – I just want it to be week one already. September 12th in Miami is the only true way we’re going to get an idea of what this team can be in 2022.
One thing I do know? This is massive year for quarterback Mac Jones. You can’t screw that up with incompetence around him.
The Patriots will travel to Las Vegas on Sunday and practice alongside Josh McDaniels and the Raiders on Tuesday and Wednesday.
They’ll then face off against Josh, Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and the rest of the silver and black from Allegient Stadium on Friday night at 8:15pm. Keep it with us here on CLNSMedia.com for all of the latest Pats news as the preseason dwindles down. We’re getting closer and closer to week one…
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