What We Saw: Thursday Night Preseason Edition

Dan Adams and Justin Herrera recap all of the NFL action from Thursday night.

Football Team @ Patriots

Final Score: Patriots 22, Washington 13

Writer: Justin Herrera (@Semtexmex93 on Twitter)

 

It’s the first preseason game for the Patriots and that means it’s Mac Jones time. The Washington Football Team brings their talented team led by Antonio Gibson, Chase Young and Terry McLaurin into Foxborough to introduce themselves to the 15th overall pick in 2021. The game’s notable absences were Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, Curtis Samuel, Montez Sweat, and Stephen Gilmore. The Patriots started out with Cam Newton but shifted to Mac Jones after two series. Jones showed comfort in the pocket but missed on a couple of throws and left us wanting to see more of him. Washington gave us some insight into how they are going to be using the running backs in the upcoming season, giving Antonio Gibson three targets in two series. Overall, the Patriots put away the Football team on the back of Rhamondre Stevenson‘s 127 yards and two 4th quarter touchdowns.

 

 

Washington Football Team

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 5/8, 58 yards

Taylor Heinicke: 9/15, 86 yards | 1 carry, 4 yards

Steven Montez: 17/24, 108 yards, TD, INT | 1 carry, 14 yards

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick looked alright in his debut with Washington, showing his ability to stretch the field with a 22 yard pass to Terry McLaurin on his first throw and a 24 yarder to Logan Thomas later on.

 

 

He was pestered by Matthew Judon early and Dustin Hopkins couldn’t cash in on Fitzpatrick’s 10 play 43 yard drive.

 

 

 

Taylor Heinicke took over on the 3rd drive and looked up and down the entire game. On some drives, he looked like a playmaker who was able to extend the play. The flip side was that sometimes he just made terribly overthrown passes. Heinicke had a couple of nice passes to John Bates and Steven Sims.

 

 

Steven Montez threw the only touchdown for Washington and led a 15 play, 92-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with him throwing a touchdown to Lamar Miller. Montez was exciting out there at times, but his best chance of making the roster is as the QB3

 

Running Back

 

Antonio Gibson: 5 carries, 15 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Peyton Barber: 6 carries, 20 yards, TD | 1 target 1 reception, 3 yards

JD Mckissic: 1 carry, 2 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

Jaret Patterson: 10 carries, 40 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 30 yards

Jonathan Williams: 4 carries, 13 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 22 yards

Lamar Miller: 3 carries, 14 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards, TD

 

Antonio Gibson started the game and stayed in for three drives. Although his stat line was unimpressive, Gibson did receive three targets indicating that maybe Washington is serious about giving the passing workload to Gibson.

The shining star of the night in the Washington backfield was Jaret Patterson, who was utilized heavily in both the run and receiving game. He made a couple of shifty moves to gain some extra yards and capitalized on all four of his targets with receptions.

Jonathan Williams and Lamar Miller finished out the game. The latter scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, while both were involved as receivers which kind of gives us an idea of what might be in store for any running back in this offense.

One note from this unit is that Patterson might be in the running for RB3 in Washington, while Gibson might be a juggernaut in the making in this offense if he does indeed see most of the passing down work.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Terry McLaurin: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Logan Thomas: 1 target, 1 reception, 24 yards

Steven Sims Jr: 1 target, 1 reception, 18 yards

Dyami Brown: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards

Adam Humphries: 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

John Bates: 1 target, 1 reception, 19 yards

Dax Milne: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards

Ricky Seals-Jones: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Kelvin Harmon: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Isaiah Wright: 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

The Washington receiving corps was used to its’ fullest in this game. Everyone got a shot to be in the game which is exactly what you want to do in the preseason. Terry McLaurin started the game with a 22-yard catch and ended with 25 yards total. Logan Thomas had a nice catch for 24 yards on his lone target of the game.

 

 

Neither played more than a handful of series on offense.

One guy to watch out for in the remaining preseason games is slot receiver Adam Humphries. Yes, that Adam Humphries. He was able to create separation against the opposing nickel corner on multiple occasions, converting one for a catch while falling to the ground on his only other target. He could be someone Fitzpatrick looks to target on short routes.

Rookie Dyami Brown was looking to make something out of his first game and was given plenty of opportunities with his four targets, but he just kind of had a pedestrian showing at best. Nothing he did stood out as exceptional, nor did anything stick out as being particularly bad. Everyone else is kind of irrelevant going forward for fantasy.

One thing to note is that the running backs had 16 targets while the wide receivers had 22. I don’t know if this is going to continue into the season, but it might indicate that fantasy owners should target Washington’s running backs if the trend continues throughout the preseason.

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterback

 

Cam Newton: 4/7, 49 yards

Mac Jones: 13/19, 87 yards | 2 carries, 0 yards

Brian Hoyer: 2/4, 14 yards | 1 carry, -1 yards

 

Cam Newton started the game for the Patriots, and during his first series his offensive line looked shaky. Newton was almost on the receiving end of a nasty strip sack courtesy of Chase Young, who exploded off the line of scrimmage and beat starting LT Isaiah Wynn to get to the QB.

 

 

The play was ruled an incompletion, but it was still a scary moment for Patriots fans (and a sign of things to come this season for Washington fans). His 2nd drive was more on the productive side, hitting James White with a screen pass for 17 yards, which helped the Patriots get a field goal and take the lead. Overall, Cam did not look like he improved over last year as he still had a couple of very bad throws that were uncharacteristic for a Patriots QB.

 

 

 

Mac Jones then made his long-awaited NFL debut and showed us what he could do.

 

 

His first pass of the night was ruled incomplete, but the replay clearly showed that Jakobi Meyers caught the ball.

 

 

The play was not challenged by Bill Belichick. On the very next play, Jones completed his first career pass on a nice comeback route by Kristian Wilkerson.

 

 

Jones then connected with Kendrick Bourne on the next play. The slo-mo gives a great look at Jones’ mechanics as a thrower, which look very good for a rookie in his first career appearance.

 

 

A few plays later, Jones dropped an absolute dime into the breadbasket of Wilkerson, who couldn’t come up with the catch. This should have been Mac’s first career touchdown and it’s a shame that Wilkerson couldn’t hang on.

 

 

Jones showed some pretty good pocket awareness and his internal clock was right on time. He could feel any defenders coming at him pretty much all night and didn’t have a problem dumping the ball off just to get it out of his hands. He also very nearly ran for a first down if it wasn’t for a bad spot by the ref.

 

 

 

The coaching staff tested him coming out of halftime as he ran the hurry-up offense on their first drive of the second half. He led the team down the field on a 13 play, 53-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. It wasn’t a Brady-esque hurry-up by any means, as it took him some extra time to register what the defense was putting out there, but for his first career game it still looked pretty solid.

Later in the third quarter he very nearly connected with Gunner Olszewski on a bomb that he just barely overthrew.

 

 

And that was pretty much it for Jones on the night. He only averaged 4.6 yard per completion as he dinked and dunked his way down the field on multiple scoring drives, but it was the mechanics and the pocket presence that was most impressive. His two favorite targets, Kristian Wilkerson and¬†J.J. Taylor, likely won’t be getting first-team reps if/when Jones is named the starting QB, but it was pretty clear that Jones has built up a bit of a rapport with both of them. I would expect that as the game slows down he’ll feel more comfortable taking more deep shots, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaching staff tries to force him into it a bit more next week to see how he reacts. Overall it was a solid debut for the future of the New England Patriots.

Brian Hoyer also played in this game. That’s all.

 

Running Back

 

Damien Harris: 4 carries, 17 yards

James White: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Sony Michel: 6 carries, 26 yards

J.J. Taylor: 2 carries, 10 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 31 yards

Rhamondre Stevenson: 10 carries, 127 yards, 2 TD

 

Damien Harris is impressive. He supposedly gained some muscle and worked on his footwork in the offseason. Well, whatever he’s been doing, please keep doing it. Harris was great on outside runs and showed some shiftiness to go with his burst. Like most plays in this game, Harris’ most impressive run didn’t count, Harris had a nice gain that should have put the Patriots on the three yard line if not for a holding penalty.

 

 

After Harris, we got to see Sony Michel’s trade bait runs, and I’m not going to lie; He looked good. The Patriots gave him some carries and he looked better than he looked last year. Hopefully, he lands on a team that will use him, and maybe he can be fantasy-relevant again.

 

 

J.J. Taylor and James White were used primarily as receiving backs and both performed well. I can see White becoming Newton/Jones best friend in 2021, as he looked revitalized on a 17-yard screen pass. White might have some fantasy value this year.

 

 

Meanwhile, Taylor was Jones’ favorite receiver and he looked very good. He was shifty, he broke tackles, and he lined up both in the backfield and in the slot. He also had a nice kick return. He’s got some playmaker in him and after his performance on Thursday there’s a very real chance he makes the team.

 

 

 

 

The best was saved for last as Rhamondre Stevenson showed us that he is for real and wants to make an impact in New England. If Harris goes down, I’d grab all the Stevenson shares that I could. He looked like he belongs playing against the ones and twos, not the threes and fours.

 

 

 

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Jakobi Meyers: 2 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards

Kristian Wilkerson: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 36 yards

Jonnu Smith: 2 targets, 1 reception, 16 yards

Kendrick Bourne: 2 targets, 1 reception, 13 yards

Isaiah Zuber: 3 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Jakob Johnson: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

N’Keal Harry: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

 

There really weren’t too many standouts from this group. First, I wish we saw more of Jakobi Meyers, but I understand it’s because he’s the unquestioned number one receiver at this point. Jonnu Smith was another guy who I wish got another touch in this game. He took a three-yard drag and turned it into 16 yards.

 

 

He might be a YAC monster this year and if that’s the case then Jonnu is a can’t miss. There weren’t many others that shined.

Kristian Wilkerson may see more reps in the next few weeks but someone needs to work with him on those hands. Bobbling a TD is a quick way to get into the coach’s doghouse, even if it’s just the preseason. Other than that mishap he was a pretty solid receiver for Mac Jones and while there’s a slim chance he gets offensive reps this year, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to remember his name…just in case.

N’Keal Harry has been having a wonderful camp but he was a no-show in this one. He caught one pass where he turned on the jets and got around a defender to get the first down, but otherwise, he didn’t do much of anything. He needs to show something next week.

 

¬†— Justin Herrera (@Semtexmex93 on Twitter).

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