Quick Hits from 1st Pre-season Game
1) The Offensive line was truly offensive with Connor McDermott LT, Antonio Mafi LG, Ferentz C, Kody Roussey RG, and Sidy Sow at RT. I can’t blame anything on Bailey Zappe because he didn’t have time to throw. This group was even worse at run blocking. The two veterans had penalties, McDermott trying to get a quick step out of his stance to set up and Ferentz for rocking in his stance for a false start.
2) I was very surprised that we didn’t see Demario Douglas at all. This is a clear indication of his status with the team and where he stands in the depth chart. He was given the night off because of the amount of work and consistent play in camp. It has been reported that he has beaten all of the DBs he has faced in camp. This puts him ahead of Tyquan Thornton. Speaking of Thornton, he had a really nice catch for a 27-yard gain. He sold out and high-pointed the ball for the catch. Tre Nixon had a couple of catches, one for a 1st down.
3) Houston played their 1st team on Offense and Defense and the Patriots’ backup players held them and especially on Defense. CJ Stroud was under a lot of pressure, especially from Daniel Ekuale and Keion White. The penalty against Ekuale for a late hit on Stroud was pretty weak. White was instrumental in the fumble recovery by tackling the RB and preventing him from getting back to the ball. I was also impressed by his pursuit, never giving up on the play and tackling the QB from behind.
4) Bryce Barringer was impressive as a punter with two big punts, one was 62 yarder and the other was actually a miss hit but he benefitted from a good roll. He averaged 50 yards on 4 punts.
5) Jalen Mills was immense at Safety, reading the QB and stepping up for the Interception. He also made several other good plays including blowing up a short yardage attempt by Houston. Rodney Randle led the team in tackles with 8 including a couple of nice open-field tackles. Jerimiah Pharms had 6 tackles but a lot of those tackles were downfield after he was blown up on the line of scrimmage.
6) Malik Cunningham is fun to watch. I am thinking the Patriots shouldn’t expose him to waivers at the final cutdown. He will be extremely valuable in running the scout team antics of opposing QBs like Hurts, Allen, and Mahomes. I was very impressed with his throw on the run that Tre Nixon should have had in the endzone. This is no Michael Bishop type of situation. Cunningham had limited reps at QB as he is learning a new position. This accomplishment is remarkable.
7) Overall the game was choppy as the Houston third teamers are better than the Patriots third teamers. So what! What was important is the Patriots 2nd team Defense was better than the starting Houston Offense. The Patriots 2nd team Offense with the mash-up Offensive line was not up to the challenge of playing against the Houston Defensive starters.
We are going to learn a lot about this team in next week’s Joint Practices with Green Bay and then the following week with Tennessee. If the Patriots can’t get some of their projected starters back on the Offensive Line we will be in for a couple of ugly pre-season games.
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