The New England Patriots fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-24, in the opening preseason match for both clubs. A look at the three players who excelled in the game, and three that need to improve by next week’s match up against the Houston Texans.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo – It was a slow start for the Patriots offense, as they were only able to muster a field goal in the opening quarter. Garoppolo settled in afterwards, and once when he found his rhythm, the offense was clicking.
Jimmy G finished with 22 completions out of 28 attempts, throwing for 235 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers. It was encouraging to see him play well after his poor start to training camp.
Patriots offensive coordiantor, Josh McDaniels, called a different game plan than he would have if Brady were under center, as he called multiple bootlegs that Garoppolo perfectly executed, beautifully tucking away the football to sell multiple play fakes.
He was able to click with wide receiver, Austin Carr, and tight end, Jacob Hollister. Speaking of Hollister….
TE Jacob Hollister – Boy, did this kid look good. The third tight end spot on this team looks to be up for grabs, and Hollister did nothing but significantly improve his odds on grabbing that roster spot.
Hollister showed reliable hands, good route-running and a willingness to absorb tough hits in the middle of the field, all are musts if you are to be a tight end in the Patriots offense.
“I think I needed a couple of those hits to get me going,” Hollister said. “I definitely was having butterflies, but getting through the first couple of plays, I started getting into a rhythm and started feeling good.”
He finished the game with a team-high seven catches for 116 yards. He clicked with Jimmy during the second quarter when he caught a pair of long balls down the middle of the field, and later on with Jacoby Brissett.
WR Austin Carr – The undrafted wideout impressed in his first taste of NFL action, as well. The route he ran on his touchdown catch was Edelman-esque, displaying terrific footwork and quickness in being able to shake the defender along with keeping his feet in bounds along the back line of the end zone.
Carr finished the game with five catches for 44 yard and a touchdown. “I was talking with the guys and I just wanted to get my first catch, my first hit, my first tackle, and it’s all done now.” Carr said. “It was tons of fun. I love this game. Nights like tonight, being able to play in front of a home crowd, it’s kind of what you live for.”
While the wide receiver position is crowded, if an injury pops up, Carr may have first dibs on that spot.
CB Cyrus Jones – The nightmare has not ended for the second year cornerback from Alabama. He allowed a pair of deep touchdowns, and while the second one can be partially blamed on safety Jordan Richards (we’ll get to him in a second), his technique is sloppy all around.
He allowed a 97-yard touchdown to Keelan Cole and a 42-yard touchdown to Dede Westbrook. The frustration was obvious with the former second-round pick.
After a rookie season plagued with muffed return catches, Jones is expected to make the big ‘second-year jump’ that head coach Bill Belichick always talks about. This is not what he had in mind.
It would be a surprise to no one at this point, if Jones if left without a roster spot on this Patriots squad, especially if he continues to show poor play both on defense and special teams.
S Jordan Richards – Speaking of underwhelming second-round choices, Richards had a hand to play in Corey Grant’s 79-yard touchdown run, where he took one of the worst angles I have seen since Brandon Meriweather was on the roster.
Instead of blocking off Grant’s angle and forcing him into help, Richards decided to make a highlight reel play, and completely whiffed. And Grant was gone.
Richards is not expected to make the roster, barring any injury to the safety group, especially since the Patriots re-signed safety Duron Harmon during the offseason. Performances like Thursday night do not help his case.
RB D.J. Foster – Foster made one good play, a 17-yard reception out of the backfield. Other than that, he fell forward at the goal line to score, and lost a fumble.
The fumble was the end of the evening for Foster, who could’ve used a good outing while Gillislee is still recovering from a hamstring issue, but it was uneven.
He had four rushing attempts for a total of seven yards, while running back Leshun Daniels got the bulk of the carries after Foster coughed up the football. Not a good way to get on Belichick’s good side.