Judging a team, player, or coach can be incredibly difficult based on a preseason performance. Typically, teams are trying out new strategies, and working in rookies and newly added free agents. Preseason games are essentially televised practices. Despite all that, there is still a fuss made every year about preseason performance. We can all agree that we're sick and tired of hearing about how the Baltimore Ravens have not lost a preseason game since 2015.
Since the mass media seems to believe that preseason performance is reportable, this must mean that fans of football believe that the results of preseason football games are reportable. I will report, without judgment, the results of the Patriots' preseason game last night against the Houston Texans. This will not be a puff piece, and you will not hear me talk about how Christian Gonzalez will be the next Deion Sanders because he happened to make a tackle.
I want to talk about how Bill O'Brien did in his first preseason game as the offensive coordinator and compare it to how Matt Patricia did in his first preseason game as the offensive coordinator. The social media crowd will not shut up about how Bill O'Brien is a massive upgrade over Matt Patricia, and how the quarterback guru will help get their beloved former first-round pick back on track for the Hall of Fame. Here is how the two offensive coordinators compared against each other, head to head, in their first preseason game.
Matt Patricia's offense scored 21 points against the New York Giants and his first preseason game. Bill O'Brien's offense scored 10 points against the team that gave up the sixth most points in the league last season. Matt Patricia's offense racked up 308 yards (256 passing). Bill O'Brien's offense only managed 164 yards (86 passing) against the team that gave up the third most yards in the NFL last season.
Matt Patricia managed 19 first downs, compared to Bill O'Brien and his nine first downs last night. Night. Both offensive coordinators faced third down 12 times in their preseason debuts, with Patricia converting five times, and O'Brien converting just three. Bill O'Brien's offensive line allowed three sacks last night, well Matt Patricia's offensive line (He was the offensive line coach as well as the offensive coordinator) allowed only one sack.
Bill O'Brien did have more time of possession than Matt Patricia, but that's not necessarily a good thing, because he did less with the additional minute and a half he had. I don't believe that a case can be made that Bill O'Brien looked better yesterday than Matt Patricia did against the Giants. It just wouldn't be true.
This is not to say that Bill O'Brien is not going to do wonders for this Patriot offense. After all, it is the preseason, and preseason games don't matter, right? I am just stating the facts without bias or opinion. And the facts say that Bill O'Brien's preseason debut, his offense looked worse than Matt Patricia's offense.