Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the huddle during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Having Tom Brady start at quarterback was a surprise with the rag-tag group of offensive linemen and pass receivers. Other than Jonas Gray at running back (and only because of suspension/injury of LeGarrette Blount) no one else on the field with him is expected to start against Pittsburgh in week one. Brady played just two series and completed just one pass. It was hard to gauge if his passes were off target or the routes run were not sharp. Either way, the positive was the pass rush did not get to him.
With so many wide receivers out of action, third year player Josh Boyce had a golden opportunity to step-up and steal a roster spot. He instead made that much harder on himself catching just 2 of 11 passes thrown his way. Certainly, some of the passes his way were not well thrown, but his inability to corral the passes thrown his way or make a big play did not help him in his battle to win a roster spot. Bobbling a pass which was then intercepted did not look good.
Slot receiver Brandon Gibson flashed why he is in the discussion for a roster spot with four catches on four targets for 29 yards. Gibson looked like a solid fit behind Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the offense. Chris Harper burst upon the scene with seven receptions for 48 yards as he worked well in space.
Aug 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Boyce (82) makes reception during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
Running back James White looked ready to step in and replace Shane Vereen as a receiver (blocking, not so much). White had four catches for 52 yards and with most of those as dump-offs, he had 57 yards after the catch. White was elusive in the open field and was able to plant his foot and change directions. He was able to make defenders miss him and accelerate away from tacklers.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough day in front of a weak offensive line. Sacked seven times, Garoppolo did best when efficiently taking the short passes and eschewing the deep ball. On passes travelling less than ten yards in the air he was 18 of 20 for 128 yards. However, his passes over ten yards in the air he was just 2 of 9 for 31 yards.
Without any starters on the offensive line, there were plenty of mistakes leading to pressure. Undrafted free agent rookie David Andrews was a top performer along with practice squad player Chris Barker at left tackle. Rookie Shaq Mason had some hiccups pass blocking. One sack was due to a whiff by running back James White in pass blocking and another was a coverage sack as Garoppolo scrambled into a pass rusher. Mark Asper played three plays at right tackle and allowed a sack.
Rookie Tre’ Jackson appeared to allow a sack and guard Josh Kline allowed one playing at center. There were individual breakdowns as one would expect in preseason game one. A positive sign was that there were no single player or players having multiple breakdowns. Cameron Fleming was solid, as was much-maligned Jordan Devey.
Next: Rushing Offense