Game four of the preseason is one of the hardest things to watch all season. Not only do none of the starters play, but, more importantly, you know that you’re only one week away from the real deal. Still, though, this game is invaluable to the players and coaches on the field, and as fans, there’s a lot we can learn.
MVP – Jimmy Garoppolo
Was he perfect? No, but he was pretty darn good for a rookie, second-round draft pick. What’s so great about Garoppolo is that he just looks so cool, calm and collected in the pocket. Even if he makes a mistake—which he has every right to this early in his career—he’s still confident in himself to make the next throw.
Though his completion percentage wasn’t outstanding (52 percent), he showed that he could play and succeed for an entire game, finishing with 284 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He led scoring drives of 82, 61 and 59 yards, one of which included a great 33-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Dobson.
I’d be surprised if this isn’t the Patriots’ backup quarterback this time next week.
LVP – Josh Boyce
The good news for Boyce is that he was targeted nine times last night. The bad news is that he only came away with two receptions. While Boyce may have a lot of natural talent, he is finding himself moving closer and closer to the roster bubble. Not only did he get mixed up on a route, causing an interception, but he’s seen the rest of his competition step up, while he’s stagnated.
Both Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell had already cemented their positions on the roster heading into this game, along with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the slot, but with the return of Aaron Dobson, Boyce’s chances of making the final roster are looking slim.
X-Factor – Aaron Dobson and Tim Wright
And just like that, the Patriots added two more receiving threats to a surprisingly deep and talented receiving corps. Both players played their first snaps with the Patriots this preseason, and both players looked even better than expected.
Dobson led the team with 57 receiving yards on three receptions, but it was his 33-yard touchdown catch that should really be getting fans excited. After being kept out of practice much of the offseason due to foot surgery, it was hard to know just how effective he would be when he got back, but he sure looked fine last night.
As for Wright, it wasn’t his receiving totals that impressed—four receptions for 43 yards—but his brain. The Patriots offense has never been an easy one to learn. As we’ve seen through the years, most incoming receivers take months to fully grasp it, if they ever do. But Wright, who worked extremely hard with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and tight ends coach Brian Daboll, was able to play 43 out of 70 snaps just days after joining the team.
If he continues to work that hard, he could be seeing a significant amount of playing time much sooner than anyone thought.
Key Stat – 1 Snap
This was Jimmy Garoppolo’s game, but Tom Brady did get one snap… on special teams. Brady was the holder on the Patriots extra-point attempt, and with Belichick as your coach, you never know what that could mean. Probably no more than practice for an emergency situation, but there’s always the possibility of a pass when Brady’s on the field.
What This Loss Means
It means we’ve reached the regular season! Thank the heavens!
September 7, 2014 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Patriots @ Dolphins
Sun Life Stadium
Follow Michael Jaycox at @MilkyMike
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