The New England Patriots fell short to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 22-11, in their preseason opener on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. There was certainly a lot of bad, but also a few bright spots in the loss on Thursday. As Bill Belichick said after the game, “It’s the first preseason game everybody has a lot to work on, we will watch the film and i’m sure there will be corrections on every play.” Here are my main takeaways and notes from Thursday nights contest.
Malcolm Butler Impresses Again: The majority of Patriots fans were probably hoping to see a lot more of Malcolm Butler than they actually did. He was only out on the field for about two series. However, while on the field Butler made multiple plays in the end zone. Butler locked down his defenders and stayed on them while Aaron Rodgers rolled out of the pocket, breaking up two different passes. Encouraging to see seeing how he seems to be the teams number one cornerback right now.
The Rest of The Secondary Disappoints: Other than Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty, the Patriots secondary as a whole was very disappointing. Darryl Roberts was on the field starting, which was a bit surprising. He played decent, but certainly not up to the level that you would comfortable having him as a starter.
Aaron Rodgers took advantage of him playing to far off the line. In addition, Logan Ryan was toasted by wide receiver Jeff Janis on a pass from back up quarterback Scott Tolzien for a touchdown. Furthermore, Duron Harmon had some tackling issues on a long touchdown run by Alonzo Harris when he collided with fellow defenders James Morris and Bradley Fletcher. Just an awful display of defense.
Jimmy Garoppolo Shows No Progression: If you asked me to tell the difference between Jimmy Garoppolo in late December of last season and tonight, I would have a tough time. It does not seem like he has improved his game very much, we could sort of get a glimpse of that in practice.
His decision making still is too slow. That helped contribute to him being sacked seven times throughout the night. He look as if he was making a concerted effort not to use his legs. There were times where he should have scrambled out of the pocket, instead he went to the turf. Garoppolo finished the night 20 of 30, for 159 yards, zero touchdowns, and one bad interception that was intended for Josh Boyce. Garoppolo fired the ball at Boyce on a ten-yard dig route, however instead of hitting him on the outside shoulder away from the defender, he threw it inside where LaDarius Gunter picked it off.
Young Offensive Line Struggles Greatly: The offensive line without a doubt was the lowlight of the game for the Patriots on Thursday night. Players such as David Andrews, Josh Kline, and once again Jordan Devey had a very tough time against a defensive front that is not exactly the 1985 Chicago Bears. The offensive line gave up seven sacks in total, and most came from the interior. Shaq Mason show some potential as a run blocker, but had a tough time keeping up with the pro level speed. There will certainly be a lot of scrutiny placed towards that group this upcoming week.
Josh Boyce Doesn’t Live Up To Hype: After having a very good training camp thus far, Josh Boyce had a very underwhelming performance on Thursday night to put it lightly. Mental errors continue to hurt his career. Simple mistakes like turning for the ball, and running all the way through his routes, and bad drops were some of the lowlights of his night.
Boyce finished the game with one catch after being targeted eight times. It was a rough night to say the least, and disappointing for me because I had him as a player to watch for. He needs to make up for his performance next week, because if he continues to string together lack luster performances he will be looking for a job come early September.
Miscellaneous Notes: There was a few bright spots on Thursday night behind all the disappointment. Trey Flowers was one of my nice surprises. Flowers made a great move on Packers starting tackle David Bahktiari to get to Aaron Rodgers and bring him down for the sack. It was very encouraging to see that explosiveness from him.
Also, Jonas Gray took advantage of his chances running for 74 yards, with a 55-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Finally, Stephen Gostkowski lived up to his new contract by nailing a 56-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give the Patriots the 11-9 lead.