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Patriots Preseason Spotlight

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Patriots Preseason Spotlight: New Gronkowski On The Horizon?

The New England Patriots preseason slate opened on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. New England lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-24, but in all honesty, who really cares about the final score.

Preseason football is all about watching the rookies and players looking to make a name for themselves. Thursday nights preseason opener was filled with performances that are note worthy from unproven players.

Let us start with the offense and work our way through to the defense and special teams.

The primary QB for the Patriots was backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy is sort of a proven player at this point. But he showed off some mobility on Thursday.

This touchdown to Austin Carr was an example of what Garoppolo can do when moving around the pocket under pressure.

His final stat line of the night was 22-28 with 235 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Receivers Making A Name For Themselves

The play highlighted above showcased the impressive roll out and under pressure throw. But what was truly spectacular was the catch by Carr.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “It was a scramble play. It’s never how you draw it up, but we do that drill every week and Jimmy [Garoppolo] threw a great ball and I was able to go up and get it.” “As I was coming across the end zone, I was trying to make sure I didn’t get pushed out [of bounds]. The [defensive back] made a great play on the ball. All of the [defensive backs] on the Jaguars had a great game, but I was able to pull that one down.” [/perfectpullquote]

The rookie was able to show off his athleticism by going up and grabbing the football on a touchdown. Carr is a player to watch on the Patriots depth chart as he caught 5 passes on 7 targets for 44 yards with the touchdown. Carr is currently fourth on the unofficial depth chart tied with Devin Lucien and Cody Hollister.

Another receiver to watch for the Patriots is Jacob Hollister. His game on Thursday reminded me of a young Rob Gronkowski. The rookie tight end signed as a free agent in May and reeled in 7 passes on 9 targets for 116 receiving yards. A look at the unofficial Patriots depth chart shows the Hollister brother as fourth tied with players like James O’Shaughnessy and Sam Cotton.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “I was just trying to do my job tonight and just a product of the coaches getting me ready and feeling good. Everybody did their job for most of the night. Still made a lot of mistakes, but looking forward to getting better.”   [/perfectpullquote]

But after Thursday’s performance and a solid start to training camp, you could see this gritty tight end jump up the depth chart. Ahead of him currently is Rob Gronkowski, Dewayne Allen, and Matt Lengel.

Garoppolo seemed impressed by the two young receivers.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Yeah, I mean, all those skill guys – Austin made a tremendous catch on a touchdown. I mean, he really went up and got that one for me. Jacob – you know, savvy player, performed very well. I mean, all those skills guys, just the young guys especially, came out and played well, and we needed them to. We were limited with guys tonight and they did a good job.[/perfectpullquote]

The third and last receiver to watch after Thursday’s preseason opener is A.J. Maye. Maye caught Garoppolo’s second touchdown pass.

The 23-year-old wideout finished the game with 6 catches on 7 targets for 34 yards and the touchdown. He sits third on the unofficial depth chart behind Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell.

Receivers in preseason without Tom Brady is almost pointless, however. While they can impress the coaching staff, if they fail to connect with Brady it almost certainly will not work out in New England. One player who has connected with Brady in practice is Lucien, who only recorded one catch on 5 targets in the preseason opener.

The receiving core will get its first real look once Brady is under center which could come next week.

Defensive Players That Showed A Different Side

The defense as a unit got torched by the Jaguars offense to the tune of 447 total yards allowed. There isn’t much to highlight, but what happened to Cyrus Jones was something special

Cyrus Jones got torched not once, but twice. He allowed two touchdown passes and gave up 3 catches on 4 targets for 151 yards. While his overall performance was abysmal and he declined to talk to reporters postgame, he was moved from cornerback to safety by the end of the game.

Coach Bill Belichick noted after the game that the move was due to the lack of depth at the position. But seeing Jones player over at safety is an interesting move. Something that could pan out in the long run. Think Devin McCourty or Patrick Chung, both couldn’t cut it at corner and turned out to be solid safeties.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Yeah, again we have a lot of players having a lot of different responsibilities, playing in different spots. We went into the game with three safeties and they weren’t all able to finish, so that’s part of it, too. But the more things a player can do, if he can do them at a good level, then the more value he adds to the team. It wasn’t something we really planned on but it worked out that way. We’ll take a look at it and evaluate that.[/perfectpullquote]

I think the overall defensive takeaway is there is a lot of coaching to do. That is showcased clearly in this play that Elandon Roberts choked on.

Special Teams

Stephen Gostkowski and his struggles at hitting field goals ever since the Denver game two years ago has been a hot button of conversation. In the preseason opener, he went 1/2 on FG attempts. The miss came on a 56 yarder attempt, not a real miss since he wouldn’t have taken that in a game. He was 3/3 on extra points.

Cyrus Jones was the primary special teamer returning kicks, he caught one punt, no gain. Jones also had 6 kickoff returns averaging 19 yards in return and had a 27-yard return which was his longest return on the night. Jones was heralded as being a kick return specialist coming out of Alabama. For New England, this is how he can make an impact this season.

Next Man Up

Who did you think stood out? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

The New England Patriots will head to Houston to face the Texans in week 2 of the preseason next Saturday, August 19th.

Tanner founded Trifecta Network in Spring of 2016 and has been the Chief of Content for the Network since that time. Currently Tanner covers all the sports teams in Boston and has contacts in many of the teams in the city. Before starting Trifecta, Tanner was a Site Expert for the FanSided site Chowder and Champions before leaving to cover Boston teams on the ground as a member of the media for Trifecta.

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Patriots Talk: Josh McDaniels And The Colts Wouldn’t Have Worked Out

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A Case of Behind The Scenes

 

 

Josh McDaniels and the Patriots thought their time to depart after their tough loss in Super Bowl 52 was unavoidable. However, not only did Josh McDaniels get extended, but its been many rumors that Robert Kraft had contacted McDaniels literally hours before he was suppose to take off Tuesday for Indianapolis.

 

It’s difficult to know anything within the Patriots’ organization as they have remained firm in not explaining what goes on behind closed doors. However, multiple sources over at ESPN for the past week since the story broke out about McDaniels’ abrupt decision to not become the Indiapolis Colts Head Coach. The way things broke down was that Kraft and Bill Belichick got together and sat down with McDaniels. With Defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia going to Detroit, this seemed like a desperation move to maintain the coaching staff from the previous season.

 

However, according to ESPN writer Mike Reiss, there was more to the situation then just that. In one of his articles regarding the McDaniels’ decision, he stated:

 

Belichick offered to include McDaniels on more of the inner workings of the organization, from roster construction to financial/salary-cap related considerations. That was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. Ownership also endorsed it as a way to extend Belichick’s influence on the organization in future years, although no assurances were given to McDaniels that he would succeed Belichick. McDaniels, who a source confirmed got a significant raise, has privately said in the past that he did not want to be the coach who succeeds Belichick. Although he since may have changed his mind, McDaniels knows Belichick, after five Super Bowl victories, will be a hard act to follow.

Beyond financial and professional stability, McDaniels also was thinking of his family. He wanted a long-term commitment from the Patriots so his four children, ages 12 to 3, would be able to attend the same schools over the next several years. The transient life of a coach doesn’t always make that possible.

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Former NFL Official Claims Eagles Used Illegal Play To Win Super Bowl

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Did you have doubts that the Eagles lined up correctly on the Nick Foles touchdown catch?

Well, you are not the only one with a former analyst now claiming that Philly was indeed lined up illegally on the play.

Appearing on the Talk of Fame Network, former head of officiating and FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira said the Eagles were in fact lined up illegally.

“I know the league came out and said that it’s a judgment call, which it is,” Pereira said, via Pro Football Talk. “The down judge, who was the one that [the play] was on his side of the field, they felt that it was his judgment, and [receiver Alshon Jeffrey] was close enough. Well, he wasn’t. They lined up wrong.

“Not only that, it’s a trick play. And if you’re going to run a trick-type play, then you have to be lined up properly. You could either have six men on the line, or you could have an ineligible number lined up at the end of the line, which was the case. I know what the league has said, but they would have been a lot more comfortable if they would have called an illegal formation.

“We always use a yard [within the line of scrimmage], maybe a yard-and-a-half. But that’s two [yards], and even a little bit beyond two. It’s kind of one of those that has no effect on the play. I get it. But they didn’t line up properly. And it really should’ve been called.”

Bottom line is it was simply a judgment call be the officials, might have been the completely wrong judgment, but based on what we know about Super Bowl LII the New England Patriots were never going to win the game. The Malcolm Butler benching paired with Doug Pederson‘s mindset of keeping his foot on the gas and exposing New England’s weaknesses were the reasons the Patriots lost the game, not this particular play.

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Boston Herald Runs Ron Borges’s Tom Brady Hoax Story

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Patriots

Thursday night Boston Herald reporter Ron Borges penned a story with this headline “Tom Brady wants to get paid like Jimmy G, or he’ll skip OTAs”. A headline and a story that was uncovered as a hoax on Friday.

The Kirk and Callahan show on WEEI revealed that one of their texters pretended to be Tom Brady’s agent Don Yee when texting Borges. The texter dubbed “Nick in Boston” informed Borges that Tom Brady intended to sit out New England’s preseason workouts unless he was paid like Jimmy Garoppolo who signed the largest deal in NFL history on Thursday.

K&C tweeted out the screenshots of texts with Borges outing the story as a complete and utter hoax.

Borges story was actually refuted right off the bat on Thursday night with both NBC Sports Boston and NESN claiming the story held no truth.

As for Borges, this is not his first major failure as a reporter. Since the Herald ran the story they are now looking into the matter.

Overall tricking Borges isn’t a great thing to do. Lying about someone’s identity is never nice with some reporters coming to the defense of Borges. But it is hard to have sympathy for a “journalist” that failed to check his sources and run with a story with only one source confirming of a major story.

Either way, there is no truth to a Brady holdout.

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