New England Patriots: Observations from preseason opener vs WFT

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots smiles during warm ups prior to the start of the game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots smiles during warm ups prior to the start of the game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

I can’t tell you how good it felt to be back inside Gillette Stadium last night to watch the New England Patriots take on the Washington Football Team (I think it’s time they figure out a name BTW, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue).

Early Thursday morning we received a report the Patriots were going to play all 3 QB’s, which only raised my excitement level.

New England Patriots quarterback evaluation

Cam Newton opened the game for New England. The opening drive started with a 2 yard run from Damien Harris, then an incompletion from Cam intended for Jonnu Smith. On the next snap, the very disruptive Chase Young strip sacked Newton but the Patriots were able to fall on it. 3-and-out.

On the next drive, Cam looked much better. He hit Jakobi Meyers for an 11 yard gain to open his 2nd series. A few plays later, he fed the ball short to Jonnu over the middle of the field for 16 after a significant YAC effort from the TE. Newton then went to James White for a 17 yard gain on the very next play.

The drive stalled, and Quinn Nordin came in and hit a 35 yard field goal.

Overall, I don’t think we learned a lot about Cam Newton last night. The opening series was obviously less than ideal, but he made some nice reads throughout the second go-around. We saw a few accurate, short throws, which was one of the main complaints throughout the fanbase last season in regards to Cam.

We’ll see how he looks next week when NE travels to Philly for joint-practices.

He was 4-7, for 49 yards, 0 TDs, and 0 INTs.

Now, the moment everyone in New England was waiting for:  Mac Jones.

I was in line for a Bud Light when I heard an enormous cheer start to fill the stadium, and I didn’t even need to look at the nearby TV to know what was happening. So I left my spot in line, and rushed back to my seat.

One of the first things I noticed about the young QB – he has a quiet confidence. I understand this is the first preseason game of the year, but it looked like the NFL stage wasn’t too big for him.

His first throw was an attempt to Jakobi Meyers that went “incomplete” (if Bill challenged, I think it would have been overturned). He threw to a spot where only his WR could catch it, but it fell short. It looked like he may have short armed it a little bit, but not 100 percent sure.

His first completion came 2 plays later on a nice back-shoulder throw to Kristian Wilkerson down the left sideline on a comeback route to move the chains.

My favorite throw of the night came on the opening play of the 2nd quarter, when Jones found Kendrick Bourne over the middle of the field for a solid gain.

After the play fake to Sony Michel, Mac Jones did a nice job of establishing his base, squaring his shoulders, and delivering a perfect throw to Bourne – touch laser over the dropping LBs, but in front of the closing safeties. Here’s a view from the end-zone to better see what Jones was facing.

His best throw of the night? An incomplete DIME to Wilkerson down the sideline which would have been a TD. From my view, I couldn’t tell if Kristian dropped it, or if the DB in coverage got a hand on it. Either way, it was a perfect throw.

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So, what did we learn about the kid last night. Well, in my opinion, he’s closing the gap. When he entered the game, the Patriots ran the Pats’ offense. Quick, decisive, accurate. He made adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Everything you want to see from a 1st round pick.

Josh McDaniels may have shown some things he would like to run with Mac. Shotgun formations, empty backfields, RPOs. Most of what Jones did at Alabama.

Overall, he was 13-19 for 87 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, and took a sack.

I can’t wait to see him against Philly.

Other New England Patriots notes

-The Pats may have found a RB gem in Rhamondre Stevenson. The biggest play of the game came late in the 4th when Stevenson broke free for a 91 yard TD gallop. His size, speed, and agility is something we haven’t seen in NE in years.

-N’Keal Harry, despite a great showing in Camp up to this point, was quiet last night. He had just 1 target, 1 catch, for 4 yards. They didn’t seem to draw up anything for him to get an opportunity down the field, which tells me it wasn’t a showcase to draw a trade. He played in Agholor’s spot, making him the 4th wideout as it stands. We’ll see if that changes.

-Matt Judon is going to be a problem. I mean, watch him shoot out a canon on this play to make a backside tackle to force 4th.

Next. New England Patriots: 2 top stars in the win over Washington. dark

The New England Patriots will travel to Philadelphia for joint-practices next week, and will play the Eagles for their 2nd preseason game on August 19th at 7:30.

I’d buckle up, this QB competition is going to be REAL if Mac Jones plays well again…