Week 1 Preseason Preview: Patriots vs Jaguars
Starters treat these games as an up tempo practice against opponents you typically don’t face on a regular basis. Do players get hurt? Sure. Did we all hold our breath when our newest defensive linemen planted the reigning NFL MVP into the turf a couple pre season games ago? I sure did. Seeing him do the typical MLB pitcher arm rotation stretch in visible pain, panic started to set in. This preseason may take a different approach with starters taking a few more snaps than usual.
With players only having two weeks of training camp under their belt and no OTA’s or mini camps, you will most likely see a lot more 70/75% speed from the first string guys. This will limit injuries, get some rust out, be a great visual for rookies and newcomers to the team, and slowly bring the players back into season ready football shape. Being in shape and being in football shape are two completely different things, I’m sure anyone who has played a sport can vouch for that.
For the game, I think you’ll see a very conservative approach both on offense and defense. If I was a betting man, I’d take the under on this all day. You’ll see a lot of the running game from a variety of backs. Our two new rookies will take a bulk of carries along with Sammy Morris. I think Bill wants to evaluate him closely to see what kind of role he will play. I personally and puzzled with the fact they are carrying a half dozen running backs this year.
From the quarterback perspective, you’ll see Tom Brady throw the proverbial bubble screen, draw to Kevin Faulk/Danny Woodhead, a slant or two to Wes Welker, and maybe if we are lucky, one deep ball. If they get close to the red zone, look for Rob Gronkowski, or a fade route or quick out to Chad Ochocinco. We’ll want to watch Nate Solder closely as well. I’m interested to see his highly touted footwork and how it translates into the NFL.
On defense, we will see Albert Haynesworthfor a few snaps. The coaches will take a very slow approach with him, and when he is ready, they will take the reins off. He has one full month to get into football shape, so these games mean nothing to a player like him. I would think we’ll see Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes a fair amount. Both of these guys, more so Cunningham, have to take a big leap forward this year and need to be a leader on defense. Jerod Mayo will be Jerod Mayo. He will make his 10 tackles a game, which somehow he gets credit for 20 of them, and be an animal going sideline to sideline. I am ready for him to make a big jump and a big play. He has yet to make one in a Patriots jersey that is a game changer, and he had a rough go of it in back to back playoff games.
The secondary will be competitive internally this year, with Leigh Bodden and Devin McCourty who seem to be locks to start. Who will be the nickel back? Will it be Darius Butler? I want to like this guy, I really do, but he is turning into a Jonathan Wilhite in my eyes, a more athletic Jonathan Wilhite for all of you Butler lovers. He NEEDS to make a big leap forward this year. At the safety position, let’s just say it is on SWOL and hopefully he plays smart, within the system, and clean. He also was Mr. Irrelevant in the 98.5 Toucher and Rich Criminal Fantasy draft, so please don’t get arrested.
Who to Watch: Nate Solder, RB’s, Edelman
Don’t Panic if They Suck: Brady, Ochocinco, McCourty
Be a Tad Concerned if They Suck: Butler, Tate, Morris
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