Cam Still #1? By Shaun Petipas
Image via Carolina Panthers
Who shined and who fell flat in preseason debut?
The New England Patriots made their return to a fan filled Gillette Stadium on Thursday night against the Washington Football Team in an exhibition match. This game felt a little bit bigger than just a regular preseason game for the Patriots however because of the many running story lines they have given us in training camp.
To start Cam Newton didn’t play terrible but he did not play like a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL. Granted he didn’t play all that much but when he did, he only went 4 for 7 and 49 yards and only managed to put three points on the scoreboard. He almost got strip-sacked from Chase Young manhandling Isaiah Wynn, but Newton was able to get rid of the ball just in time. There was one classic “what was that” throw from Newton on a screen that probably wasn’t going anywhere anyways but still he has to be better on third down.
On the other side of the QB battle was Mac Jones who looked solid out there. Now McDaniels gave him some easy play calls and easy decisions to make but at least he made the correct decision and an accurate throw. Jones’ best drive came right out of halftime and in a high tempo offense. It seemed like he was calling the protections at the line and could check out of the play if needed. He ended up going 8 for 9 on the drive for 43 yards but failed to cap off the drive with a touchdown. Instead, they had undrafted free agent Quinn Nordin march out and kick his second field goal of the day. Nordin could give Nick Folk a run for the starting kicker position.
For the wide receivers it was another slow performance for N’keal Harry who didn’t appear to get much separation all night and after an impressive start to training camp many thought he would explode for a big year this season. Jakobi Meyers had another solid game catching only one ball (that counted) the other was a beautiful catch that the officials ruled incomplete, but he clearly had his hands under the ball. Bill didn’t challenge the ruling on the field. Meyers looks poised for another solid year in the slot for the Pats.
The running backs and offensive line remain the team’s best positions with a good amount of depth and fantastic starters. All the backs contributed in some way and the big flash came from rookie Rhamondre Stevenson who finished the day with 10 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came on a 91-yard sprint past the Washington defense.
To flip it to the defensive side of the ball, I thought the defense looked good and one thing that seemed to help is the addition of three NFL ready linebackers in Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy and Donta Hightower. Also, the defensive line looked rebuilt and ready to erase the bad taste left in its mouth from last season. Josh Uche looks bigger and was an impact player on the edge for the pats getting pressure and stopping the run. Another name to lookout for is Ronnie Perkins who quietly had the most pressures on the team with four.
There is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks with joint practices and more preseason games coming. It should be interesting to see how Bill deals out the reps for the number one quarterback spot but as of now it seems it is still Cam at the helm.