Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Patriots 2019 Preseason Preview

Well, hi there, how have you been lately?!

The Patriots finish a semi-eventful off-season tomorrow night, when they take on the Detroit Lions in the preseason. There's been a lot of angst about next year and the year after. But take my advice -- enjoy this year, it could be a special one!

As for the preseason, here are four things I'll be watching for when the real players and scrubs take the field the next four weeks.

1. N'Keal Harry

Harry was the Patriots first pick in the draft, a 6' 4" 225-pound receiver out of Arizona State. By all accounts he's had a great camp, making spectacular catches in most practices and building trust with QB Tom Brady.

Harry will be important in the passing game, with Rob Gronkowski "retired" and wideout Josh Gordon not reinstated yet. So I'll be watching for him to do those little things, block downfield and in the running game, fight for jump balls, and be in the right place at the right time for Brady to hit him in stride.

2. Left Tackle

Long-gone Trent Brown had a very good year here last season. But the Pats coaches trusted the position to redshirt freshman Isaiah Wynn and coach Dante Scarnecchia. Wynn was drafted in the first round last year but never saw the field in the regular season. And Scarnecchia is an offensive-line magician, who will either mold Wynn into a good LT or plug in someone else.

I'll be looking for how many snaps Wynn plays, whether QB pressure comes from his side of the formation, and how he handles stunts and games up front. It'll also be interesting to see how he run blocks, given the Pats recent emphasis on running the ball.

3. Two Linebackers

Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins are listed as backups on the depth chart. But if I had to guess, one or both will start by mid-season at the latest.

During last year's preseason, Bentley was really the only defensive player who stood out. He was all over the field and seemed to grasp the defense much quicker than most veterans can. Alas he was injured early and didn't get much playing time in the 2018 regular season.

Collins was traded to NFL Hell in Cleveland for two years. He got paid there, and now that he's willing to take less to win, he's back in the fold. He wasn't great toward the end, but he knows the defense and when he is on-point, he was great when paired with starter Dont'a Hightower.

I'll be looking for continued playmaking by Bentley and a return to form for Collins. And I will keep an eye on their playing time, especially with the starters.

4. Defensive End

Trey Flowers took his considerable talents to the aforementioned Lions this off-season. Who can blame him -- every player deserves a shot at one big payday. And that was his chance.

The Pats brought in Michael Bennett to help replace him. But Bennett is more of a stout player than a long-and-lean freak of nature like Flowers.

So I'll be watching how Bennett does holding the edge against the run, whether they have either DE drop into coverage at all, and whether anyone botches their assignments (which is easy in this defense).


There you are; four things to watch in four preseason games. Hope you enjoy the games and that the Patriots stay healthy.

Enjoy the summery weather and I'll check back with a season preview sooner than you think!

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 0-0!