The official “dress rehearsal” for the 2018 season has come and gone and only one more preseason game stands in the way of the Patriots and the start of the new year. As expected, the starters played the entire first half. What wasn’t expected, was an appearance from tight end Rob Gronkowski, who saw his first preseason action in some time.
Tom Brady had a decent night under center, going 12-of-16 for 102 yards passing and no touchdowns. However, the offense failed to make it into the end zone, settling for one field goal and a miss.
Here are some other observations from the penultimate preseason game:
Eric Decker fails to impress
With newcomer Jordan Matthews failing to stay healthy and ultimately getting released, the Patriots turned to former Bronco, Jet, and Titan, Eric Decker to help fill the void. However, Decker has failed to carve out a role for himself in the offense. Plagued by the drops throughout his time with the Patriots, Decker didn’t see a single snap with the first-team offense in Friday night’s loss to the Panthers. An ominous sign for the veteran receiver trying to grab one of the last roster spots. Decker finally saw the field in the second half with Brian Hoyer under center. He was targeted five times, catching two and dropping one. The seven-year veteran is likely spending his final days on the Patriots roster.
Latest Patriots News
- Patriots 2021 NFL Draft Prospect: RB Jaret Patterson
- NFL Free Agency: Are We Sure The Patriots Can Still Win Over Free Agents?
- Patriots Free Agency: Is James White As Good As Gone?
- Do All Signs Point To Jimmy Garoppolo Reunion?
- A Clare Perspective: The Valentine’s Day Edition – A Tight End Love Triangle
‘Bend-don’t-Break’ defense makes an appearance
After last week’s shellacking of the Philadelphia Eagles, the defense was notably more athletic. Since it wasn’t a regular season game, both the offensive and defensive game plan was very vanilla. However, it was still impressive to see the Patriots aggressively get after the quarterback. Something that was absent the last time these two teams played. On the first couple drives against the Panthers, however, the Patriots defense struggled to contain Christian McCaffrey as he rushed for 42 yards. The silver lining? The defense stiffened up in the red area and held the Panthers to field goals.
Philip Dorsett continues to build a strong rapport with Tom Brady
The wide receiver group in Foxboro has been a hot topic this offseason for one reason or another. As mentioned before, Eric Decker has struggled to latch on and may be shown the door in the coming days. The same way guys like Jordan Matthews and Kenny Britt failed to carve out a niche in this offseason.
However, one player continued to stick out and that was Philip Dorsett. Dorsett, of course, was acquired at the beginning of last season in exchange for quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Dorsett saw limited action throughout the season as he played a similar role as the then-Patriots receiver, Brandin Cooks. With Cooks now in L.A. and Edelman set to miss the first four games, the opportunity seems to be Dorsett’s for the taking. In Friday’s game against the Panthers, Dorsett hauled in four passes from Brady for 36 yards including a catch on a 4th-and-3 conversion in the second quarter.
Steve and the Hood Podcast: Evan Lazar of CLNS Media talks Patriots with Steve and Chris