The Patriots hosted the New York Giants for the fourth and final preseason game of the 2019 season. While many of the starters did not play on Thursday night, it was the first time Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Josh Gordon saw game action this season. Here’s what we can take away from the preseason finale.
1. Defense - Strong defensive performances have been the story of the Patriots preseason. While looking at the box score won’t necessarily indicate that it was a good night for the Patriots defense, there were certainly some positives. During the Giants first drive of the night, the Patriots defense put up an impressive short yardage stand, holding the Giants on 3rd and 1 and then again on 4th and 1. David Parry did a nice job clogging the middle on the play. Keion Crossen and Duke Dawson each came up with an interception in the 2nd quarter. Scooby Wright and Deatrich Wise each had a sack at the end of the first half. Even without the starters, the Patriots displayed their overall depth on the defensive side of the ball.
2. Demaryius Thomas - Considering Thomas suffered a torn Achilles tendon injury just months ago, seeing the veteran out on the field in game action gets a stock up on its own. However, on Thursday night, Thomas wasn’t just out on the field, he made an impact. The wide receiver found the end zone twice and showed flashes of his old self. He particularly stood out during the second quarter when he used his body to catch a beautiful deep ball from Stidham for a touchdown. However, Thomas was not perfect. At the end of the first quarter, he fumbled a handoff but it is important to remember that Thomas has had just three career rushing attempts since 2011. We’ll give him a break.
3. Keion Crossen - What started as a down night took a turn in the right direction for the second year defensive back. During the first quarter, Crossen was beat badly by Alonzo Russell for a long touchdown pass. However, Crossen made up for it in the second quarter by breaking up a deep ball from Alex Tanney on third down. Later in the quarter, Crossen intercepted Tanney, and then added a nice pass breakup to close out a solid first half of play. Roster spots are scarce, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but Crossen left it all out on the field on Thursday night.
4. Gunner Olszewski - Bill Belichick loves versatility and this rookie displayed that on Thursday night. In addition playing wide receiver and contributing on special teams, Olszewski played on the defensive side of the ball as well. During the second half Olszeski played both cornerback and safety and even made a tackle. Hey, the more you can do!
1. Jarrett Stidham - After three impressive preseason performances, Thursday was a down night for the rookie. Stidham looked uncomfortable and struggled to get rid of the football forcing him to scramble often. On one particular play in the first quarter, Stidham waited too long to throw, and when he finally looked down the right sideline, a Giants defender tipped the ball and it was intercepted by safety Sean Chandler leading to a Giants field goal. Stidham rushed seven times for 60 yards and finished 18 of 28 for 225 yards. He was sacked three times.
2. Injuries - Rookie Malik Gant was carted off the field in the third quarter with a leg injury. Hjalte Froholdt also went down with what appeared to be something with the right arm/shoulder. Froholdt left the sideline and did not return for the remainder of the game. This injury particularly hurts the Patriots due to the lack of depth on the offensive line. In other injury news, Edelman played just five snaps, but after Stidham connected with the wide receiver for a 20-yard gain, Edelman ran off the field and immediately took off his left glove. Patriots’ trainer Jim Whalen came over to look at Edelman’s thumb. Edelman stayed on the sideline for the remainder of the game, but did not return to action. Perhaps, this was all part of the coaching staff’s plan for Edelman, but considering he just spent three weeks on NFI with a broken left thumb, it is certainly something to monitor.
3. Josh Gordon - Gordon got the start and played 21 of the first 23 snaps. He was targeted six times and came up with two catches for thirty yards. Gordon dropped a pass on a slant route to open the Patriots second drive of the night. It is important to keep in mind that Gordon was not a part of the Patriots offseason program or the first three weeks of training camp. The drop indicates Gordon is still shaking off rust.