New England Patriots 17 – New York Giants 12
This game was very little about winning or losing and more about giving the roster bubble guys one last shot to showcase the potential. The coaching staff kept pretty much every starter on the bench for this one.
Kyle Lauletta got the start and showed that he has a ways to go when it comes to developing his NFL passing ability. He was comfortable on simple read throws underneath, but struggled to get the ball downfield accurately. It led to 2 interceptions.
NYG forced three turnovers themselves, hopefully a sign of things to come, but they also allowed an 86 yard touchdown late that put the game out of reach after a back-and-forth defensive battle. NYG lost the game 17-12 and paved the way for the roster cut down. Major injuries were avoided for the 4th week in a row. Bring on Week 1.
Kyle Lauletta: 8/19 – 118 yards – 1 TD/2 INT. With both Eli Manning and Davis Webb on the sideline for this one, we got our first extended look at the 4th round rookie. Two things I have liked about his game showed up again in this one, his release and footwork. He is further along than some of the QBs that were taken ahead of him in this 2018 class. He made a few aggressive throws downfield and failed to connect on all of them. He just under threw most of them and the lack of arm power that was discussed in his scouting report definitely showed up. His targets had a step or two in their defenders but the ball just didn’t get there. Both of his interceptions were poor downfield passes. Overall, it was a rough night for the rookie and now it will be back to holding the clipboard while trying to learn the game as much as one can from the sidelines.
Alex Tanney: 13/23 – 92 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Tanney took over toward the beginning of the 3rd quarter. He never really had a shot at making this roster barring injury, but they still gave him a decent amount of playing time as Lauletta struggled and also started to get banged around by the Patriots pass rush. His final drive resulted in the second NYG touchdown of the night thanks to three NE penalties (one of which nullified a pick 6).
-This was one of the roster competitions to keep an eye on. If NYG ends up keeping a fourth RB on the team, it will come down to one of Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley. Simmons seems to have the inside track, as he saw the most playing time and carries. His footwork and vision seem to be a notch or two higher than the others. He works his way through traffic with a low pad level and showed enough burst. Pressley and Martin have had their moments here, but now that Simmons is healthy again, I think he won the role if they do keep a fourth RB.
-Just like the RB position, it seems there may be one more WR spot up for grabs. Kalif Raymond was featured a few times, finishing with a team high 7 targets but only brought in 1 reception. He was the victim of a couple bad deep balls from Lauletta despite impressive releases off the line. Amba Etta-Tawo had the play of the night with a 41 yard touchdown that was 37 yards after the catch. His impressive burst and long stride speed jumped off the screen in a game full of backups. His hot start to training camp simmered down but he finished with a bang. He did drop a ball later in the game, however.
-Travis Rudolph, a popular player at this time last year, caught all 3 targets that were thrown his way. I am surprised he hasn’t been given more looks with this regime. He, along with Roger Lewis (who had another quiet night), seem to be heading elsewhere this season. Alonzo Russell is an interesting guy. He flashed a couple times in games and at 6’4/210, that kind of size might be something to work with on the practice squad.
-No Evan Engram or Rhett Ellison in this one. Jerell Adams, Garrett Dickerson, and Scott Simonson saw the majority of the snaps. As much as Adams has been up and down this preseason, I think he gets the nod for the number three role. He added a couple more catches and actually had a very solid night blocking the edge. Simonson brings similar presence to the trenches but he just doesn’t have the catch radius that Adams does.
-Sticking with the theme of the night, it was a night full of backups. John Greco and Chad Wheeler both allowed sacks but it appears both are going to be primary backups for at least the start of 2018. What I don’t like about Wheeler is the lack of progress he has made with technique. There was a play where he was pass blocking while facing the quarterback trying to box the defender out. He gets turned around and caught off balance way too often. Greco offers the versatility inside you want on game day. He can play OC and both OG spots. His strong preseason play combined with his strong finish in 2017 provides security.
-John Jerry may be an expensive backup and he too has some awful looking technique at times, but he can still get plenty of movement in the run game as a straight ahead blocker. He had some nice pops at he point of attack. Perhaps the most impressive young lineman on this team is Chris Scott. He, too, provides versatile depth inside and he graded out in a positive manner for the fourth week in a row, the only linemen on the team to do so.
-This was a night for Lorenzo Carter to show what he’s got, and he shined. The rookie recorded 2 pressures and a sack in just 18 snaps played. With the status of Olivier Vernon up in the air, Carter’s role is going to be an important one whether he is ready or not. He showed excellent hand usage, easy leverage, and the well-known speed in space. Avery Moss finished with 5 tackles but failed to make a difference in the pass game. He has continued to struggle to show any sort of physical progression in year two.
-The most crowded/deep position group on this roster. Robert Thomas appears to be entrenched as the primary backup at NT. He recorded a sack and 3 tackles. Thomas is going to benefit greatly from this scheme because it allows him to do what he does best, attack up field. He carries a lot of power when he moves north and consistently creates a new line of scrimmage.
-A.J. Francis led the group in snaps but was inconsistent. The one glaring hole in his game and this dates back to college, is the pad level. He gets too upright and will get easily moved. Izaah Lunsford had a pressure and flashed some nice athletic ability, but he is a sloppy player.
-One of the more interesting position battles on this roster may have very well came down to this game. Calvin Munson was a feel good story at this time last year, but he really hasn’t burst into the top 3 or 4 inside linebacker rotation. He doesn’t have the speed or coverage ability for this scheme and his presence between the tackles seems to get lost. Tae Davis, while undersized, has been displaying the opposite. He finished with 6 tackles and factors more on special teams with his speed. He plays bigger than his size but he has had at least 1 missed tackle in each game, including this one.
-Ray-Ray Armstrong has developed more and more with each week. He has picked up this scheme as well as anyone on the team and matched with his skill set, he is going to be a factor. The former safety covered well up the seam and also laid the wood on a QB hit early, probably the hardest hit of the night.
-A lot of competition in this group. I wouldn’t say it is a strong group of corners. They are competing for the spots on the bottom of the depth chart. With that said, Donte Deayon had his breakout performance with 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups. His size is always going to limit him in certain situations, but he has the knack for the ball that you want to see in a CB. Great reaction time and the anticipation is improving.
-Chris Lewis-Harris had a solid night with 2 pass break ups. He did a nice job of keeping himself in the right position. I think he has shown enough to make the roster but he may get caught on the wrong side of the numbers game. I like his ability to cover moreso than William Gay, but Gay’s experience and versatility may get him the nod. Leonard Johnson is still a guy I would like to keep around as well. He had a couple of physical tackles and he plays with the short memory and aggression I want.
-Andrew Adams, starter of 17 games over the past 2 seasons, got plenty of time to show his worth. He had a couple of nice tackles, one of which was for a loss, where he showed the needed range and physicality. But similar to what we have seen out of him in the past, he missed 2 tackles and was way too late on deep coverage responsibilities. He just doesn’t show the instincts you need back there. Michael Thomas, a guy this staff may want to keep around for locker room reasons, finished with 5 tackles and played like a hard-nosed linebacker at times. He plays big and may be the ideal backup to Landon Collins.
-Sean Chandler got playing time late and showed quality movement in coverage, but he is too much of a non factor against the run.
K Marshall Koehn: 0/0 and 0/1 XP. Koehn missed his lone extra point attempt. He really has no shot at making this roster anyway.
P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts – 45.2 avg / 43.5 net. Very good net average there. 4 of his 6 punts were pinned inside the 20.
-CB Donte Deayon, LB Lorenzo Carter, DT Robert Thomas
-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Kyle Lauletta, S Andrew Adams
3 THOUGHTS ON NE
-The Patriots know what they are doing when it comes to scouting and developing QBs. That’s why I am still scratching my head with their selection of Danny Etling. He is a plus athlete with a strong arm, but he is very erratic from a release and overall accuracy standpoint. I can’t imagine he is their long term plan at QB for the post-Brady era.
-Another spot NE has done overly well with when it comes to the draft is linebacker. I’m sure some of it is scheme based, but I would keep a close eye on whoever they cut there. They have a surplus of young talent that produce on multiple fronts.
-The Achilles’ heal of this team is going to be the OL. I don’t think they were upset about losing Nate Solder for the contract he got, but this group is very thin on the edges. Brady can overcome it to an extent, but their floor at the position has been getting lower and lower each year.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
-The biggest victory for NYG this preseason is the fact they enter the year with no major injuries. No, Darian Thompson’s hamstring injury is not major and I’m not sold he will make the team anyway.
-If Donte Deayon proves to be a capable playmaker as the #3 or #4 corner on this team, he could prove to be the unsung hero of this defense. NYG has had issues creating turnovers over the years and we know this scheme can force QBs into throwing balls that they don’t want to. That is where the playmakers need to rise up and make things happen.
-As we enter the one week away window, the three biggest concerns on this team are: lack of balance and stability on the OL, minimal pass rush without over-blitzing, and no playmaker at free safety.