Mac Jones Is Ready for Battle

According to cut-down day, Mac Jones does not need a mentor. Late Tuesday morning, the New England Patriots parted ways with former NFL MVP Cam Newton, and in turn, handed the reins to one McCorkle Jones. The rookie out of Alabama had an electric pre-season. He was graded as PFF’s highest rookie quarterback, passing for 388 yards and one touchdown with a 69.2 completion percentage. Also posting a 97.3 passer rating.

When you look at Mac Jones and his performance through camp and pre-season, he passes the eye test with flying colors. He has calm command of the huddle, he throws the ball quickly and accurately, and he protects the football. The offense moved much quicker and just looked more patriot-like with Jones behind center. With no disrespect towards Newton. I have been one of his bigger advocates in Patriots media. I wish that he had gotten a second chance to revive his career. But I trust Bill Belichick’s judgment if the first-round pick is ready to play.

Looking at the Future with Mac Jones

Bill Belichick goes into depth about Mac Jones' work ethic

This is by no means an easy job for the rookie quarterback. Jones is entering a division with two other playoff contenders. Surrounded by an offense surrounded by question marks or inconsistencies. Not to mention, a date with the best to ever do it come week four against quarterback Tom Brady and the Super Bowl LV champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jones will certainly have his hands full in his rookie season. With all of the New England region looking on him with microscopes and prepared with insults in angry accents. I imagine Jones will get more leeway than Newton did last season. The team is certainly better than 7-9 and is certainly improved on the offensive side of the ball, even if there is much to be proven. But Belichick and Josh McDaniels have faith that McCorkle is the man to lead the charge, and he’s ready to take on the NFL’s best competition. He’ll have his chance to do that early and often his rookie campaign. His first start his against his predecessor at Alabama in Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins. Here’s to a delightful 2021 season for McCorkle and a good start to a new era of Patriots football.

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Pats Preview: Pre-Season Week 3 @ New York

We’ve made it, ladies and gentlemen! The pre-season finale is upon us. After six and a half long months of no regular season or playoff action, we are just two weeks away from the beginning of the 2021 season. The Pats have kept themselves busy and currently boast a 2-0 record in the pre-season. Both quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones have looked excellent. Meanwhile, the running back core has remained second to few, even after trading away 2018 first-round selection Sony Michel this week.

The Pats take on the Giants in the final game of the preseason in MetLife Stadium. After a long week of joint practices, both teams can begin to mold their week one lineups and find out which bubble players are lucky enough to remain on the starting 53-man roster. We’ve said this all pre-season long, there are plenty of things to pay attention to in camp. Even as late as the last week of the preseason slate. So let’s just dive right into it, folks. Kick it off, Bailey! Let’s get this one underway.

Three Things to Watch

Patriots QB <a rel=

#1: Final Look at Quarterback Competition

Mac Jones vs Cam Newton has been all the rage this summer in Foxboro. The rookie from Alabama has looked excellent thus far in camp. Grading as PFF’s top rookie quarterback so far in the pre-season. Meanwhile, Newton isn’t doing too shabby himself. After a clunky debut against Washington, the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player had a gigantic bounce back against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. While taking most of the starting reps in his limited time at joint practices with the Giants.

I doubt that Newton’s job as the Pats’ starting quarterback is in any jeopardy after the COVID-19 test misunderstanding. I don’t see him going too far into this game, and I don’t expect Jones to get more than maybe a quarter and a half of work. I’m interested to see if there will be any further developments, but I think Newton is the guy until further notice.

#2: Who Steps Up in the Runningback Room?

After trading Sony Michel, there is a gaping hole for Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor to take over. Somebody is going to have to compliment Damien Harris and take up Michel’s snaps. With Brandon Bolden and James White already having established roles, it’s time to find what the Pats can do with the other two.

Stevenson and Taylor have both had excellent preseasons. Stevenson has rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns, while Taylor has 103 yards under his belt and a score. I see a whole lot of potential in both backs, and I think that Stevenson definitely has the edge to take over the bulk of Michel’s carries. But I do think Taylor can take over the Rex Burkhead role. Being a kickstart and secret weapon of sorts for this Patriots offense. We all should be watching intensely at these two and see if we can get a clue as to how they both could fit into this offense’s identity.

#3: Does Shaun Wade Make Immediate Impact?

The Patriots just recently made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to acquire rookie cornerback Shaun Wade from Ohio State. A fifth-round pick, Wade is an excellent slot corner. He would have been taken much higher had he not been exposed when playing on the outside in 2020. With Jonathan Jones getting injured this week and still no sign of Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots had to act. They were one injury away from calling up Ty Law and offering him a gig.

Who knows if Wade makes an appearance after being on the team less than 96 hours come kickoff. It’s hard to say, but I’d like to see him out there if possible and see if there’s something worth investing in. Not all fifth-round picks have to be bubble players that barely make the team. I’d love to get a solid backup to Jones if that’s possible. All depth is good depth in the current state of the NFL.

Highlight Player: Kristian Wilkerson

Kristian Wilkerson on staying with Pats: 'I just want to be a winner' -

Unfortunately, wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson hasn’t lived up to the early practice hype he had back in July and early August. He’s failed to pop in any of the preseason opportunities he’s had. Wilkerson’s highlight so far has been dropping a perfectly thrown deep ball by Mac Jones against Washington. This game might be Wilkerson’s last stand to make a case for his standing on the 53-man roster.

The Pats are desperate for any production at the wide receiver spot. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne haven’t done too much to stand out. Jakobi Meyers has picked up where. he left off, but we saw in 2020 just how capable he is of carrying a passing game. I’m not saying Wilkerson is the next unstoppable UDFA legend. But I’ll take any bright spots where I can. Here’s to Wilkerson having one hell of a night come Sunday.

Closing Thoughts

Bill Belichick Has a Season-Altering Decision to Make That Has Nothing to  Do With Choosing Between Mac Jones and Cam Newton

I know we’re all sick of watching the backups and trying to invest in games where the score doesn’t really matter. Personally, I’m getting amped up for week one against Miami. It’s so close yet so far away. But there are still many decisions to be made.

Some were made this week. The trade of Sony Michel is a fantastic example of getting ahead of the ball. I wrote last week that I felt like Belichick had a difficult decision to make when it came to the running back room. He flipped Michel for a fourth and opened up a ton of space for the younger backs. Then getting some much-needed depth in a talented rookie in Shaun Wade.

Overall, it’ll be great to see if some bubble players break out in their last chance. The Patriots are always good for one UDFA to make the roster. Any guesses on who that will be?

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Evaluating Patriots’ 35-0 Win Over the Eagles

I wrote in my preview of this game on Wednesday that I hoped the Patriots would blow out the Eagles. They did just that, but I’ve taken for granted just how great close preseason games are for evaluation. The Eagles’ offense simply rolled over and died Thursday night, and their defense didn’t give the Patriots much resistance. Nevertheless, I’ve found five focuses of interest to discuss, and I hope next week we can see a more competitive match-up to really finalize the final pieces of the roster.

#1: Cam Newton Takes Charge of Patriots’ Offense

Patriots' starting QB job is Cam Newton's to lose, and he did nothing to  hurt his cause - The Boston Globe

The Patriots starting quarterback job is still Cam Newton’s to lose, and on Thursday night he did nothing to hurt his standings. After having an abysmal outing against Washington last week, SuperCam stepped up to the plate and posted an impressive 103 yards on nine throws and a touchdown pass. He really looked like the quarterback we all thought we were getting in 2020. Making good reads, protecting the football, calmy navigating the pocket when the pressure came in. Sure, it was against a horrendous Eagles defense without some of their most key starters. But let’s take the positives where we can get them. QB1 looked excellent and has at least temporarily restored confidence in Patriots fans everywhere. Not bad for the “Checkdown King”.

#2: Mac Jones Continues Positive Development

Mac Jones updates: How did Patriots rookie QB perform in Week 2 of  preseason - DraftKings Nation

Of course, if we discuss one quarterback, we must discuss the other. First-round pick Mac Jones continued his impressive pre-season against Philadelphia going 13-19 again for 146 yards. He had another beautiful deep ball down the sidelines that should have been caught. Unfortunately, N’Keal Harry had butterfingers and screwed up his shoulder/arm in the process. McCorkle has not made this an easy win for Newton in the quarterback competition. As he should be doing. I think Newton will probably be the starter in the season opener, but Jones is right on his tail ready for his moment.

#3: Patriots Have a Dilemma at Runningback

What Role Will Rhamondre Stevenson Have With The Patriots? -

Ice cream is fantastic every once in a while, but you can always have too much of a good thing. This is the Patriots’ situation at running back. There are five really solid backs on this depth chart as is. Damien Harris, James White, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor, and Rhamondre Stevenson make up this elite backfield. But the Patriots can’t keep every single one. There’s going to have to be an odd-man-out after next week. I would think that Harris’ and White’s jobs are safe, and Bolden’s expertise in special teams keeps him here. In all likelihood, the Patriots are going to be able to keep maybe two more. This is going to be a tough decision for Bill Belichick. One that I do not envy. Especially after Michel, Stevenson and Taylor all played extremely well Thursday night in Philly.

What I would do? I’d look to trade Sony Michel. He’s in a contract year and I don’t think the Patriots are looking to sign him long-term anyways. Then you can either try to get away with putting Taylor on the practice squad or give Stevenson the good ol’ “Foxboro Flu” where they get redshirted their rookie season. It’ll be interesting to see what Belichick does at this position.

#4: Matt Judon Looks Like a Great Investment

4 Ups, 4 Downs From Patriots' Preseason Blowout Win Over Eagles – CBS  Boston | NewsRobin

Edge rusher Matt Judon has been a bull in a china shop for the Patriots so far in pre-season. Right off the bat against the Eagles, he made his presence felt with a strip-sack off of former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Sure it was a bad snap, but we can’t knock the hustle. He was just as lethal against the Football Team last week consistently getting into the backfield and making good tackles. So far he’s proven to be the best investment from the 2021 free agency class. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith haven’t exactly gotten the chance to shine this pre-season, but Judon has and he’s made the most of it. Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, and Ronnie Perkins are going to have a difficult time getting snaps in the regular season if Judon keeps this up.

#5: Still No Answers at Reciever for the Patriots

N'Keal Harry, Josh Uche exit Patriots' preseason game vs. Eagles with  injuries | Patriots Wire

So far, it looks like Jakobi Meyers is the only dependable wide receiver for the Patriots on their depth chart. Sure, the volume hasn’t been fantastic. The rushing offense has absolutely taken the most attention and has been the most effective thus far in the pre-season. But I was really hoping that we would see more from guys like Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor (who made his pre-season debut in Philly), N’Keal Harry (who left in a sling), and camp standout Kristian Wilkerson. Nobody has really stepped up to the plate for the Pats at this spot, and I fear that we may have some inconsistent production similar to last season. Which is detrimental if the tight ends aren’t available or part of the game plan.

There’s still a week to go, and I’m really hoping that Newton and Jones get to display their arm talent a little more and set up guys like Bourne and Agholor to make some big plays. I’m not saying the Patriots have to have production at wide receiver rivaling the Buccaneers. But just more than what we’ve seen two games in.

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Pats Preview: Pre-Season Week 2 @ Philadelphia

The Pats have been down in Philadelphia practicing with the Eagles all week. Quarterback Cam Newton has looked electric during the joint practices and the team looks solid. On the other hand, the Patriots have just one healthy tight end going into tomorrow night’s matchup with the Eagles. It’s going to be another interesting matchup to see who the Patriots decide gets more snaps than others, and just how they handle the current situation at tight end with Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Matt LaCosse all hurt.

There are quite a lot of things to look out for in Lincoln Financial Field tomorrow night, but I’ll try to narrow it down to three. Kick it off, Bailey. Let’s get this one underway.

Three Things to Watch

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#1: How are the reps split at Quarterback?

Last week we only saw Newton get two drives in the first quarter against Washington. The rookie Mac Jones got five drives and was impressive for the most part. Meanwhile, the veteran Brian Hoyer got to end the game by throwing just four passes. It is imperative to me that we get to see more of Newton in these final two games. In Gillette Stadium last week, he only got to throw it seven times and the highlights of his drives were getting strip-sacked and a big play taken away by a holding penalty. I loved watching Jones as much as everybody else did. But we can’t just throw Cam Newton out to the curb after one pre-season game. Let’s see more of what the former MVP has to give.

#2: Are there any switches at Cornerback?

Last week we saw Jalen Mills get torched by Terry McLaurin in his Patriots pre-season debut. The Pats cannot afford to be this lost at their cornerback depth. They have to figure something out because as it stands currently, Stephon Gilmore won’t be back by week one. Whether it be because of injury or his lack of a new deal. I’m definitely going to keep an eye on who’s covering the Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith. Two of the corner positions are set in J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones, who will be the next man up?

#3: How does Devin Asiasi handle larger role?

As we mentioned before, the only healthy tight end heading into tomorrow’s exhibition is the second-year 3rd rounder Devin Asiasi. He has one career touchdown catch and most of his receptions came in week 17 against the Jets last year. I’m very curious as to how the Pats use him. Will they use fewer tight end sets or will they see this as an opportunity to see what the UCLA product has to offer? I personally hope it’s the latter. If Henry or Smith have to take an extended leave of absence due to injury, somebody has to step up. I would absolutely love it if Asiasi is the one to step up to the challenge.

Highlight Player: Chase Winovich

Patriots LB <a rel=

Listen, Bill Belichick put it best: “…obviously he needs to work in every area because he hasn’t done much”. Chase Winovich is just now returning from the PUP list and has missed a significant portion of training camp. I can’t say if he’ll get a whole lot of snaps, but I hope the Pats use pre-season to throw him into the fire and see what he’s got to focus on. Year three is big for any player on their rookie deal. Winovich exploded in his own way in 2020. 2021 will be huge to determine his long-term future in New England if there is to be a future in Foxboro. The Michigan man is going to have to fight like hell to get some starting reps in the regular season. The pre-season is your best bet to beat out guys like Josh Uche, Matt Judon, Henry Anderson, Tashawn Bower, and Deatrich Wise.

Closing Thoughts

Bill Belichick has classic response for not challenging missed call in Pats pre-season opener.

With there only being three pre-season games, it’s difficult to predict how many reps starters will get. We always knew the starters would get at least a half in the third game and nothing in the last game in previous seasons. Now does that dress rehearsal get pushed up to week two? Or does it stay week three and that’s how the pre-season ends? It’ll be interesting to see how teams handle this dilemma.

My energy remains the same anytime the Eagles get on the schedule. I don’t care if it’s pre-season or the Super Bowl. I’m hoping for a 52-0 blowout. Super Bowl LII and just how rambunctious their fans get always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It may be hypocritical, but don’t pretend like the rest of the NFL’s fanbase feels the same way. I knew people who hated the Patriots in 2017 who wanted the Pats to win that game. But overall, here’s to hoping that we see great play out of our own guys, and anything bad by the Eagles would just be a cherry on top!

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Cam Newton Shouldn’t Be Benched Just Yet

I know we’re all excited about Mac Jones. Trust me, I do. He looked like a young Tom Brady Thursday night against the Washington Football Team. After taking over for Cam Newton who got just two drives, the Patriots’ offense started to click. The first-round pick from Alabama completed 13-19 passes for 87 yards and almost had a touchdown. Unfortunately for the veteran Newton, he got just seven pass attempts and just completed four of them. His highlight of the night was unfortunately a strip-sack by Chase Young on his first possession.

Fans were quick to jump the gun on this quarterback controversy. All over social media fans began to make the casual arguments of “Cam Newton looks the same as last year! Put in Jones!” and are ready to close the book on the second year of SuperCam in Foxboro. If you’ve been following my work this off-season, you know where I lie when it comes to Cam Newton and the Patriots. I want him here so long as Mac Jones is developing and he is the best option at quarterback. Here’s to providing some rationality and hopefully justifying the argument that Newton should be judged on a little more than just seven passes in the first preseason game.

Two Drives Simply Isn’t Enough

Cam Newton and the Patriots Are Headed in the Wrong Direction - The Ringer

Like we said before, Mac Jones looked excellent in his five possessions. I certainly don’t want to discredit just how impressed I was with the rookie. But are we seriously going to get riled up about Newton missing three of seven passes and the blocking selling them out twice? On his second drive, the offense did move down the field with ease before Jonnu Smith got called for holding. Unfortunately for us who are trying to evaluate, Newton obviously didn’t throw the ball that much. When he did, they were mostly check-downs and screen passes. Short timing routes, though valuable, don’t get to show exactly what Cam Newton has to offer.

Hopefully next week against the Eagles we see more of Newton, and we can fairly assess what he has to offer. Simply put, it would be extremely unfair and hasty to name Mac Jones the starting quarterback based on one preseason outing where his opponent had the opportunity to show virtually nothing and Jones got most of the reps in the entire game.

We Can’t Throw Mac Jones Into the Fire

How Mac Jones fared in crucial Patriots debut

Make no mistake, Mac Jones coming out of Alabama is by no means a finished product. He isn’t the same caliber quarterback as Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, and others who can start virtually immediately. McCorkle is going to need some time to grow. Throwing him out there week one without any sort of fire and handing him the starting job would be a disastrous mistake that could ruin his future. Cam Newton has value on that alone. Unless Jones is clear cut the best quarterback and there’s no doubt, Newton should still be on this team. Unless you guys think Brian Hoyer is capable of keeping this team competitive while Jones gets ready to go. I don’t think even the most die-hard Hoyer fans believe that, if they even exist.

The Competition Will Bring Out the Best Quarterback

Cam Newton mentoring Mac Jones has impressed <a rel=

Make no mistake about it, we don’t want this to be an easy decision for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. If Mac Jones is by far the better quarterback, he doesn’t even have to be great necessarily. That could just mean Cam Newton is that bad. If anything, you’d hope Newton is the best coming out when you look at the two extremes because at least Jones has time to grow and you’re in no rush to thrust him out there. The battle for starting quarterback should by no means end in the preseason. We’ll get a good look at these two signal-callers, but unless Mac Jones is truly the second coming of Tom Brady or Newton simply cannot throw the football anymore, we shouldn’t force it with McCorkle.

We’re just one week into the preseason, and I get that fans are reactionary. That’s what this industry is all about. But let’s just try to keep cool heads about this subject here. Jones will get his time, and when he does he better be prepared for the task at hand. That being said, if he’s even remotely unprepared and Newton is capable of leading this team in 2021, I think the answer is more obvious than it seems.

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Patriots Preseason Week One Instant Reactions

The New England Patriots picked up a big preseason win against the Washington Football Team Thursday night. In a decisive 22-13 win, the Patriots looked as good as ever with a huge Rhamondre Stevenson toss to the outside to ice it. Completing drives, forcing turnovers, and simply just playing smart football. There are five key moments I’d like to shed some light on. Let’s go over the big takeaways from the first action in Gillette Stadium since December.

#1: Mac Jones Looks Really Good

Mac Jones gets his first completion in his NFL preseason debut

Quarterback Mac Jones performed about as well as I could have hoped. He went 13-19 on his passes in his five drives. Jones could have even had a big touchdown if rookie receiver Kristian Wilkerson was able to haul in a deep ball. He was smart with the ball while being quick and decisive. I don’t want to get too hyped up over a preseason game, but McCorkle showed up when he was called upon. While the fans loved him. When it looked like the game might be tied at 15-15 with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter, fans (including myself) roared “WE WANT MAC!”. This is a good sign. He might be putting Newton on the hot seat as we speak. It’s only one preseason game, but the headlines write themselves.

#2: Jalen Mills Is Not That Guy at Corner

Jalen Mills explains why <a rel=

Defensive back Jalen Mills is a swiss army knife for sure. He can do all sorts of different things on the defensive side and I see the appeal. But he can not replace Stephon Gilmore. He played opposite of J.C. Jackson at corner, and he got torched by Terry McLaurin. I’m not saying Mills is a bum, but he can’t be our Gilmore fill-in until he gets healthy and a new contract. JoeJuan Williams had a big interception last night, maybe try him out against the Giants next week. But it’s been known Mills isn’t a great corner. We can’t force the square peg into the round hole with this one.

#3: Offensive Line Needs Some Work

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On the game’s first offensive possession, Cam Newton was strip-sacked because Isaiah Wynn fell asleep and Chase Young blew past him. This wasn’t the only time the offensive line collapsed, but it’s the moment that still sticks out to me. This line has the potential to be a top-five unit in the NFL. There are obviously still some kinks to be worked out, and they have a handful of weeks to do so. But too often the Patriots’ line both starters and depth just got beat for no good reason.

#4: J.J. Taylor Has Potential

Patriots: 3 players who earned Week 1 playing time in preseason opener

I was expecting to see more Rhamondre Stevenson in the Patriots preseason opener, but J.J. Taylor seemed to be more of the man of the night. He caught passes as well as anybody with five receptions for 31 yards. He also showed some potential on the punt returns. I’d like to see more designed runs for him and just get. a look on how useful he could be for the Patriots. The second-year running back could see more use as a James White type if he keeps it up. He’s got me interested in more, that’s for certain.

#5: Quinn Nordin Might Be the Franchise Kicker

Forget Patriots QB battle, rookie Quinn Nordin gunning for kicker job: 10  things we learned from preseason opener vs. Washington -

I’ve never claimed to be an expert on the kicking of football. I likely never will, but Quinn Nordin looked excellent in his Patriots debut. Kicking two field goals (one from 50, another from 40) and missing just one PAT. Again, we don’t want to be dramatic about just one game, but we’ve seen how bad kickers have been around the league. Some teams are already having doubts about their situation. We have Nick Folk on the sideline at the moment. Then having Nordin showing out in preseason? The Patriots are in great shape on special teams heading into 2021. Just as long as we turn down the stupid false start penalties, which were a problem all last year too.

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Pats Preview: Pre-Season Week 1 vs Washington

Football is back in Gillette Stadium folks! After a long year of sadness and disappointment for Pats fans, we can come together once again. Even if it is just pre-season. I’ve been following the Patriots through these previews for the better part of two seasons. You can find my previous work on Brooklyn Beat, as I covered the disappointment of Tom Brady‘s final year in 2019 through the 7-9 disaster of 2020.

We’ve all been waiting impatiently for this moment to arrive, but we’ve made it my friends. Kick it off, Bailey! Let’s get the 2021 pre-season underway against quarterback Cam Newton‘s former coach in riverboat Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team!

Three Things to Watch

Patriots: Mac Jones dominated Rookie Night with Cam Newton impression - Pats Preview

#1: How much does Mac Jones play?

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones was taken with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and has some big shoes to fill in the upcoming years. Winning over Patriots fans isn’t an easy task after 20 years of the GOAT at the helm. We see how Newton is treated in the Boston media all the time. You’d think he was Jamarcus Russell and not a former MVP by the way that he’s discussed in New England.

Though we are unlikely to see Newton or Jones get too many snaps, I would hope McCorkle gets a chance to prove himself a little bit in this matchup. This is the first time he gets to let loose against NFL competition. Where the game actually matters to some extent. It’s a jump from training camp certainly, and fans don’t quite appreciate the value of pre-season. I wonder how much Jones and Newton will play or if it’ll just be the Brian Hoyer show to open up the pre-season. But I can’t imagine that the Pats go all four quarters without Jones or Newton.

#2: Any standouts at wide reciever?

The performance by the receiving core in 2020 was putrid. Jakobi Meyers, an undrafted free agent, was by far the best receiver on this squad last year. As good as it is for Meyers, it’s a damning statement on 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry and Bill Belichick. Sure, Newton wasn’t exactly good at passing the football last year, but his receivers did next to nothing to help. In response, Belichick invested greatly in the core. Adding Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Tre Nixon, and Marvin Hall give some great competition to Harry and others within the Pats depth chart.

I’m sure we all have heard by now that Harry requested a trade a few short weeks ago. It seems as though his frustration has simmered and he’s become a star at training camp. Along with Kristian Wilkerson, an undrafted free agent who has also made some buzz in camp. I’m not expecting anybody to light it up just one week into the preseason like Austin Carr in 2017. But just a nice play or two will go a long way into figuring out what exactly this position on the roster is capable of.

#3: Could anybody help fill the shoes of Stephon Gilmore?

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore suffered a torn quad late last season, and will more than likely miss some time in the regular season. Especially as he sits out awaiting a new contract/pay raise. So who shows up to complement J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones?

We’ve been seeing swiss-army knife Jalen Mills get snaps at corner, and the Patriots have plenty of depth with JoeJuan Williams, Michael Jackson Sr, Dee Virgin, Myles Bryant, and De’Angelo Ross. But the depth needs to turn into answers quickly. The secondary struggled greatly last year when Gilmore was out. Stefon Diggs torched us twice against J.C. Jackson. If the Pats don’t find an answer in the secondary and Gilmore remains sidelined? They could be in deep trouble come week one against Jaylen Waddle and Devante Parker.

Highlight Player: Josh Uche

Patriots linebacker Josh Uche got some high-level tutoring on his pass  rushing technique - The Boston Globe - Pats Preview

2020 third-round pick Josh Uche never really got a chance to boom or bust in his rookie season. The Michigan edge rusher played in just nine games and got one sack with seven quarterback hits last season. Starting off the season on the injury report and never hitting the field. I think he will benefit greatly from a pre-season to develop his game.

He comes into his second season buried on the depth chart. The returns of Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and the signing of Matt Judon don’t exactly hand Uche a starting job. But with the way Belichick uses his edge rushers, he could very well be a very good situational player. He is seriously underrated in coverage and could serve to be a multi-use player nobody really saw coming. Keep your eyes on Uche not only in this matchup but throughout pre-season entirely.

Closing Thoughts

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick watches all NFL preseason games - - Pats Preview

The Pats are finally back in front of fans. It’s great to say that once again. After attending the in-stadium practice on Tuesday, it proved to me that Pats nation is still running strong. It also gave me some great reassurance that fans will rally behind Cam Newton should he be the starter.

I know the preseason isn’t at all flashy. We probably won’t see a lot of the fan favorites or regular team leaders. But it’s more valuable than ever while the Patriots are in an awkward transition period. I’ll be in attendance tomorrow night and I’m not looking for a win or a surprise superstar player. Just give us something to be excited about heading into the regular season. All eyes are on you, New England.

If you enjoyed this content, or hate it and want to argue with me, follow me on Twitter @KalebEmcee! Feel free to check out the work I do on Foxboro Beat! Also, read up on the rest of the NFL content PFP has to offer here!