September 19, 2017

Gut Check – Preseason Game Two vs. Cincinnati

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Last week, the Patriots seemed to excel in all phases of the game using a potent blend of newer players and veterans. This week? Not so much.

Below, a quick rundown of some gut reactions after New England’s 7-6 loss to Cincinnati:

B-E, A-G-G-R-E…: You know the rest. Was that backfield pressure I saw on the home team’s first defensive series, with linebacker Jerod Mayo getting to the QB? Though the Bengals began to move the ball by the end of the first quarter, the Pats held on third down (pass defensed by Darius Butler) and fourth down (sack by Tully Banta-Cain).

Threshed Wheatley: Terrence Wheatley gave consistent cushions to receivers, eventually falling asleep on one during Chris Henry’s TD with 1:55 left in the first half. He also missed a third-down tackle midway through the third quarter.

Truth Or Darius: Butler, meanwhile, made a touchdown-saving tackle on DeDe Dorsey and recovered a muffed punt by Patrick Chung.

Spread Alert: The Patriots’ spread offense on their opening drive saw three different receivers touching the ball (Wes Welker, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway). They stalled inside the 20 (sigh), with Tom Brady getting pressured like a deep-sea diver (four of eight, 57 yards). Right tackle Nick Kaczur gave up a sack to essentially kill their second drive.

Laurence Marunningback: After Fred Taylor started (seven carries, 26 yards), Laurence Maroney had about as much chance to shine as a rusty penny (three for six). To his credit, he caught a pass and juked a defender for a first down. Hope to see him with the starters at Washington next week. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran well throughout garbage time until his fumble at the Bengal 11-yard line.

A Loose End: Tight end Alex Smith missed a catchable pass and, more importantly, a blockable blitzer who proceeded to accordion-ize QB Brian Hoyer.

Not Too Special: Second-year man Matthew Slater ran into the returner on a fair catch and bobbled a kickoff. The Patriots got called for an illegal formation that negated a punt nestled inside the 10-yard line. Chung also muffed the punt that Butler recovered. Late in the fourth, Herana-Daze Jones held on a punt return.

Special teams play represented the game overall: it’s best to move on.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]


  1. David Clemeno says:

    Hey Chris,

    Not trying to be a “sky is falling” guy by any means (I hate that guy). It’s preseason and all, but didn’t Brady look like he threw off his back foot a handful of times? One in particualr I remember was when he sailed one over Moss who had a step on the DB. He usually drops those in. I suppose a solid year off can do that to a guy. He seemed to backtrack a touch from last week.

    Just something I noticed.

    ~ dc ~

    • Chris Warner says:

      It’s not “sky is falling” to say that Brady looked off, especially on the play you mentioned. Had he connected on that pass, the no-huddle would have been successful, the Pats would have won and we could have taken garbage time for what it was. I’m a little more concerned about the Bengals enacting every other team’s game plan vs. the spread (i.e., bring the heat) and the O-line missing the challenge.

      • David Clemeno says:

        “… bring the heat) and the O-line missing the challenge.”

        Kazcur frightens me. He gave up Brady’s first sack — the DE was untouched. How can an OL so badly miss a guy when he’s only a couple of yards away? Kazcur supposedly has had a good camp from what I’ve read, but it’s amazing how that can change when they actually play other TEAMS. Well, anyone can have an off night; especially during these practice games. If, however, we start seeing consistent pressue coming up the middle, then I’m gonna wear a hockey helmet to protect me from pieces of the sky.

        • Chris Warner says:

          As bad as it looked, I’m reserving judgment on the Kaczur play because he looked around afterward as if he’d been expecting help. Let’s hope the mistake was more mental than physical. Next week should be the best indicator of the preseason.

          • Box_O_Rocks says:

            BB’s post game presser on that play:

            Q: The hit that Tom Brady took, do you think it was a situation where his monkey is off his back now? He mentioned last week when he didn’t get touched that he just wants to get it out of the way.

            BB: I don’t know. I guess you’ll have to ask him about that. There was a foul up on the play and he was a part of it, so that’s what happens when you don’t do the right thing against another good football team – they make plays and they hit you. I give Cincinnati credit for taking advantage of our mistakes.

            Box: If Brady “was a part of it” then ‘he’ missed a call, perhaps someone else should have caught it and checked back to him, but it is what it is and Brady got the hit he’s been asking for. Kaczur had his best season at RT to my eyes last year, it looks like he’s finally gotten enough reps there to overcome all the years of conditioning playing LT. I’ve also heard a rumor that it’s preseason…;)

  2. Kaczur may have been expecting help but I’m also thinking he guessed wrong right from the snap, in terms of what Geathers was going to do. It seemed to me his matchup WAS Geathers, but at the snap he went one way and Geathers went the other.

    As far as Brady – yes, he’s clearly off. We should expect him to be off. He’s clearly cognizant of stepping into his throws when he has a crowd in front of him. We should be expecting that too. I think we were warned months ago about the kind of mental and physical hurdles associated with this sort of comeback. It’s unreasonable to think that Brady would be any different than anyone else. I feel like the only important thing right now is that he is playing. The results are basically irrelevant. As those articles illustrated months ago, the only antidote to what ‘ails’ him is playing through these barriers. If he can get entirely comfortable again as a result, we know the results will come.

    • David Clemeno says:

      Yup Scott, it would appear that Brady’s biggest hurdle right now is mental, not physical. It looked so strange to see him throwing off the back foot — maybe Bledsoe did mentor him after all(kidding). Brady is so in charge of his throwing mechanics (“he owns his golf swing”) that it stuck out like a sore thumb (knee?) to see that back foot stuff. This will all take time and fortunately these games don’t mean anything. One thing’s for sure: If we noticed this, I’m sure Brady is well aware of it; he doesn’t need to be sending us any checks for the advice.

      ~ dc ~

  3. if Ben Watson makes the roster he owes Alex Smith a thank you card

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