The New England Patriots have gotten off to a fast start in the preseason with two wins in their first two outings. In their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, New England picked right back up from where they left off as Super Bowl champions in 2018.
Both teams took part in joint practices together but only the Patriots seemed to gain anything from them as they won the game 31-3 versus their familiar counterpart in Matt Patricia. Patricia served as the Patriots defensive coordinator from 2012-2017.
Following their trouncing of the Lions, the Patriots continued their preseason schedule versus the Tennessee Titans in Week 2. Similarly to the Lions, New England had some familiarity with the Titans head coach in Mike Vrabel. Vrabel played with the Patriots from 2001-2008.
Yet again, Bill Belichick’s squad was able to come out on top, winning the game 22-17. Late in the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham was able to lead a touchdown drive that secured the victory.
Through two exhibition contests, the Patriots have had a few players who have impressed the coaching staff.
Heading into their third preseason game, New England is facing a few questions as they take on the Carolina Panthers.
3. How does the linebacker position shake out?
Before the 2019 season begins, the Patriots seem to be loaded at linebacker with quite a few guys who could see the field. How does New England plan on deploying their linebackers to begin the regular season?
As it currently stands, the Patriots are set to start Dont’a Hightower, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy at their starting linebacker spots. Behind them, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins are also expected to receive some playing time.
We should get a better feel of how the Patriots plan to utilize their linebackers against the Panthers on Thursday night. The third preseason game is usually used as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for teams to prepare for the regular season.
Some teams are beginning to buck the trend and are still holding true to sitting their starters in Week 3 of the preseason.
However, it doesn’t seem like Belichick will follow suit and the starters should receive a fair amount of snaps this week.
2. Can Jakobi Meyers earn an extended role in the offense?
One of the biggest performers this preseason has been Patriots wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers. If the Patriots do decide to start Tom Brady under center, this could be the first time that Meyers gets some experience with Brady in a game setting.
New England signed Meyers this offseason as an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State. Provided that, Meyers came in as a likely candidate to be cut but he has turned some heads in training camp and the preseason.
To kick off his preseason, the undrafted rookie caught six passes for 69 yards and two scores. There began to be chatter in New England that Meyers could ease his way onto the roster after all.
Following his Week 1 performance, Meyers proceeded to bring in six receptions for 82 yards against the Titans in the Patriots’ second preseason game. After two productive outings, can Meyers earn a prominent role in the offense?
With Josh Gordon being reinstated—along with Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas easing their way back—it seems unlikely.
Nevertheless, Meyers will need to continue his momentum into the third preseason game if he wants to have any chance to catch passes in the regular season.
1. Who has the edge as the backup quarterback?
Coming into training camp, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Brian Hoyer was the No. 2 quarterback. Then, after some time passed, the coaching staff seemed to be pleased with the development with Jarrett Stidham.
Through the first two weeks of the preseason, Stidham has yielded 372 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Conversely, Hoyer has accumulated 202 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
After taking a glance at both players, who has the edge as of right now? Due to his experience in the system, Hoyer likely has a slight edge over Stidham as the backup to Brady.
Though, that doesn’t mean that it is set in stone before the Patriots begin the regular season. With that in mind, both quarterbacks will need to show what they can bring to the team in the third preseason game against the Panthers.
It remains to be seen if Brady sees some reps under center so there could be limited opportunities for the guys behind him.