FOXBOROUGH — Football season is officially back in Foxborough with the Patriots losing against the New York Giants Thursday 21-23. And while it may have been only a preseason game with many players not touching the gridiron—that doesn’t mean there weren’t some interesting takeaways for New England fans.
Offense will struggle
This may come as a no brainer for most NFL fans who’ve been following the Patriots. With former Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia and Joe Judge switching roles of offensive coordinator—it left critics with a raised eyebrow on who’s calling plays.
Although, the offensive struggles are not only on the coaching. The Patriots don’t have much to work with. Sure, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry and much more offensive weapons were out including Mac Jones, but even with them, there’s no clear sign of an all-star. Veteran Brian Hoyer was able to throw a touchdown early in the game. There were some highlights, but the Patriots are far from finding their offensive identity.
The best is yet to come
For that same reason is why some New England fans may be excited and worried at the same time. A bunch of Patriots’ starters sat out for Thursdays game. I saw those same players practicing a few days earlier so it definitely wasn’t injury. Perhaps Bill Belichick wants to keep their best showing for when the press isn’t allowed at practice and when the games count.
Expect more moves before season begins
With three-time super bowl champion James White announcing his retirement just a few days before Thursday, the running back list has gotten shorter. Of course, Damian Harris is expected to be the starter. However, the running back position has shown to be one of the most vital pieces to that offense that helps moving the chains. And if this teams’ offense really does continue to struggle—that running game will become more crucial. Expect some trades, free agent signings, and cuts as we gear towards the regular season.
Mac Jones is ready to be a more vocal leader
This may seem like I’m only pointing out the offense of the Patriots… well that’s because I am. I’m not worried about the defense right now. That offense on the other hand, deserves attention.
Jones may have sat out, but the 85th ranked best player in the NFL was on seen on the sidelines talking to players and hyping them up. He led them out on the field himself as he was vocal throughout the game. He showed glimpses of leadership last year just as a rookie, but now he’s ready to step into that position with grace.
No stars on defense, but perhaps that’s a good thing
No more J.C. Jackson? Fine. Although Malcolm Butler may be passed his prime, he certainly can be a leader for the young core in the secondary. On Thursday we saw the defense force a fumble before Butler picked it up. Tipped balls and tackles in the back field showed that these guys are alert and always active. Sure, Matthew Judon and Jalen Mills can be standouts, but without a star, perhaps that just means the Patriots’ defense will come together even more.