Today marks the beginning of preseason football and football is finally getting one step closer. Today there are two AFC East teams playing; Patriots and J-E-TS. Here is a quick preview for both teams.
The Patriots of New England
The Patriots get to face the New Orleans Saints who they have been having a couple joint practices with. This is the Patriots which means most of their established guys won’t play a lot but there are two areas that are things to watch in this game.
A) How Much Will the QBs play
Tom Brady is currently set to miss the first four games of the regular season since the NFL can’t learn to let things go. This means Jimmy Garrapollo will be the starter and he needs all the reps he can get. The big question will be how much he plays this game. Currently he is the starter and they don’t want to risk him getting hurt and relying on Jacoby Brissett whose only positive is he left UF. There is also the question of how much Tom Brady plays. Once the suspension is over, Brady will be the starter and unless they think he doesn’t need any preseason reps, he has to play too. The playing time for their two starting QBs will be something to watch as I expect Brissett will only be playing the second half.
B) The Other Guys
Julian Edelman is expected to not play and outside of Danny Amendola, they don’t have any reliable receivers who have been with the Patriots. This game will be where you start to see the guys who will end up being the 3rd, 4th and 5th receivers on the depth chart. Chris Hogan is the best WR on the roster and this should be his first real actual game time with the Patriots and make a nice impression. After him there is a lot of unknown. Aaron Dobson is a big guy who doesn’t play big and this is his last chance to make an impact. Malcolm Mitchell is their rookie draft pick and he has as good a chance as any to make the team. With the top two guys probably not playing, this will be a game where Hogan, Dobson and Mitchell probably get the largest amount of playing time and their role on the offense is figured out.
The New York J-E-T-S
A) The QBs
The Jets caved in and re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and he is their starter going into the season. However they also have three young QBs fighting for the other two spots on the depth chart. This will be the first of four games to determine who stay and who go. Geno Smith is the only one with actual game experience and for a backup QB, you prefer that. However he is also from the previous regime and whenever he played, hilarious things have happened. Then you got the guys that this front office/coaching staff has picked. 2nd year QB Bryce Petty was a project coming out of college and really has shown nothing that makes him worth keeping on the depth chart. Then you have the guy who is the safest on the roster in Christian Hackenberg. Hackengberg is the most talented of the four and has the most upside. He will probably be their starter in 2017 and he also needs reps seeing real defenses and getting used to playing behind an offensive line that doesn’t get him killed every play. They might have each guy play a quarter but it wouldn’t surprise me if they play Fitz only a series and let Geno and Hack get most of the playing time this game as those two are the most NFL ready with Petty probably playing Madden in the press box.
B) The Left Tackle and Other Spots
Their dependable left tackle of the past 10 years retired which means they are starting from scratch in that regard. This will be the first time we get to see the new LT in real game action. Last year the Jets offensive line was a key part of their success on offense and if they want to make the playoffs, getting their LT situation figured out will be important. Elsewhere they got some new pieces on defense as their first round draft pick Darron Lee will get his first game action. Lee is a super fast freak who will be everywhere in the game. They also are replacing Cromartie at Right Corner so even though Bowles rotated a lot of guys in the secondary last year, this will be for the starting position opposite Revis. They will be facing a pretty solid group of WRs in the Jags and a QB who loves to chuck balls in the air without a care in the world, meaning the CBs will be tested early and often. The secondary will be relied on this year so this will be a good early test on the guys who are being thrust into the starting role to get their feet wet.