Patriots Drop Preseason Opener to the Jaguars, Quick Impressions

Steve Balestrieri
August 10, 2017 at 11:34 pm ET

The Patriots preseason got off to an uneven start on Thursday night in Foxboro as the Jacksonville Jaguars downed New England 31-24. The story of the game was that the Jags converted several big plays to carry this one making a 97-yard touchdown reception, a 79-yard touchdown run and long pass interference penalty that set up a short Leonard Fournette score.

Things were looking up for the Patriots after they tied the score at 17 but the Jaguars would quickly erase any hopes of a win after Corey Grant scampered 79 yards for the score. To make matters worse, then the defense gave up another 42-yard touchdown catch on a blown coverage.

Despite that, the team got very solid performances from Jimmy Garoppolo, Austin Carr and Jacob Hollister on offense. Harvey Langi played a ton of reps on defense and was moved around quite a bit. Here are quick impressions.

Defense Loses Two To Head Injuries:
Rookie Deatrich Wise who has been stellar thru the first two weeks of training camp appeared to get kicked in the head early in the second quarter. After remaining down on the field for quite some time, he was helped to the sideline and then to the Patriots locker room where he didn’t return. Elandon Roberts also suffered a head injury in the second half and didn’t return.

Starters get the Night Off:
The Patriots didn’t play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks or any of the starting offensive linemen and the starting defense was also given the night off as well as Bill Belichick wanted to see what his backups could do against Jacksonville’s starters, at least initially.

The starters got plenty of reps during the joint practices and tonight was a night to see what the backups could bring to the table. While overall it was a mixed bag, there were plenty of good and bad for the coaches to sift thru.

Slow Start to Camp? Jimmy G. Shines on Gameday:
Much of the talk this week was the slow start that Jimmy G. has gotten off to during training camp in the first two weeks. Well tonight after a slow start, he caught fire and was outstanding down the stretch for his final three series. Garoppolo finished the night 22-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. At one point he completed 12 in a row and was making the reads, getting the ball out quickly and was much more consistent than he’s been this summer. His final three drives, 13-14 for 168 yards and a pair of TD passes. A fumble from D.J. Foster may have ruined another scoring drive.

Jacoby Brissett, however, was another story. While he seemed to process things quicker tonight and made much better decisions with the football, his accuracy still leaves much to be desired. He overthrew Devin Lucien to kill one drive, overthrew an open Jacob Hollister in the end zone on fourth down to end another and he sailed two throws out of the end zone at Hail Mary time. You have to give your players a chance to make the play. We all know how strong his arm is, but without touch or accuracy, you won’t last long in the NFL.

Welcome to the NFL Moments for Carr, Hollister:
Two of the UDFA rookies on offense who have had strong camps thus far had big nights for the offense. Austin Carr has turned heads in the early going of training camp and he turned in a very strong performance on Thursday night. He caught five passes for 44 yards including a beautiful grab in the back of the end zone at the end of the first half. It brought the bench to their feet. With the WR position so stacked, it is going to be difficult for Carr to make the roster, but he isn’t hurting his chances at all.

Likewise for Jacob Hollister. The rookie TE isn’t the biggest guy and he’s not going to be an in-line blocker, but he’s got good speed, runs very nice routes and can attack the seams. He did exactly that tonight, catching seven passes for 116 yards, including several in the middle of the field. With the third TE position open, he isn’t hurting his chances either. He’s more of a move tight end but the intriguing rookie looks like he could make some noise.

Matty P. Has Some Work to do With the Backups on Defense:
While all the starters rested on defense, the starting eleven consisted of Deatrich Wise, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Adam Butler, Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi, Jonathan Freeny, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Jordan Richards and Damarius Travis. At times the unit looked good but they were consistently gashed by the Jaguars deep stable of running backs all night long.

The big plays were particularly worrisome as the Patriots never give up big play touchdowns. Tonight Cyrus Jones looked absolutely lost on the 97-yarder to rookie Keelan Cole. Then on the 42-yard touchdown, he turned over the WR to …no one Jordan Richards stayed in the middle of the field until it was far too late.  Richards also took a horrible angle on Corey Grant’s long touchdown. Roberts also was out of position and overplayed the run and was caught out of position. After a nice start to camp, Richards is looking a lot like the man who was buried on the depth chart a year ago. That deep ball was a play that Devin McCourty is always in position for.

Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden Get Solid Work In:
The good news for Dion Lewis is that he appears to be all the way back from his ACL injury from 2 years ago. He played a good chunk of the first half and looks like his quick, elusive self again. He had a combined 55 yards on 11 touches.

Brandon Bolden got the start with Mike Gillislee, James White, and Rex Burkhead being given the night off and had a solid game. Bolden runs hard and hits the hole quickly and he also didn’t hurt his chances with his performance tonight.

The team will head down to Houston for next week’s preseason game #2 as well as get more joint practice time in with the Texans.

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