The New England Patriots utterly dominated the Philadelphia Eagles in their preseason Week 2 showdown. Even though it was basically just a scrimmage, a 35-0 route is still impressive nonetheless.
After a week of joint practices, the two sides faced off in a game that was pretty much decided by the end of the first quarter. Despite a pretty clear cut victory, there’s still plenty to unpack from this game. Here are my quick-snap reactions to New England’s domination of the Eagles:
This is Cam Newton’s Team…
Coming into this game, there were some legitimate questions on whether or not Cam Newton would be the Week 1 starter. Those questions were answered against Philly.
After a so-so affair in last week’s contest against Washington, Newton came out firing on all cylinders against the Eagles. Cam was showing the kind of elite passing we saw only glimpses of last season.
Play-action fake.— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) August 20, 2021
Wide open Jakobi Meyers.
.@CameronNewton right on the money to @BournePoly11 💰— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 20, 2021
Cam Newton out here throwing DARTS tonight 🎯 🔥 pic.twitter.com/h7jb1Ixc50— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) August 19, 2021
Newton finished the night going 8-of-9 for 103 yards and a TD, posting a wildly impressive 151.4 passer rating, just short of a 158.3 rating, aka a “perfect game” for a quarterback.
The Eagles secondary isn’t necessarily known for its elite coverage, but it’s nice to see Cam hit even the routine throws he struggled with last season. He just looks so much more confident, and it appears he’s built such a close bond with his teammates. You definitely believe that they look up to him as a leader.
Cam Newton cleaning off JJ Taylor’s shoulder and helmet after another big run. You love to see it. These Patriots are a tight group, and Newton is a huge reason why. LFG pic.twitter.com/YlZbUG2yM9— 𝗕𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻Mike☘️ (@boston_sp0rts20) August 20, 2021
It always made the most sense for Newton to be the guy at least for this year, but after a stellar performance, the job appears to 100% be in his grasp.
As great as Newton looked, rookie Mac Jones didn’t look so bad himself. He may not have had as many highlight throws as Newton, but Jones put together a truly solid stat line. The rookie went 13-of-19 for 146 yards, and was extremely efficient during his time in the game.
.@MacJones_10 is throwin’ DIMES. 🎯— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) August 20, 2021
📺: #NEvsPHI on @NFLNetwork
That’s been the story really of this preseason for Mac Jones. He’s looked very poised in the pocket for a rookie. There are times where I see some flashes of a young Brady in his throws. He has a high football IQ, and can put passes right in the bread basket with precision accuracy.
Newton has more to offer currently with his experience and his running ability. However, the gap between Newton and Jones isn’t too wide. If Newton struggles early in the season, don’t be surprised if Belichick and McDaniels make the switch to the rookie.
New England’s Running Back Room is Scary
The Patriots have what we call a “good problem” on their hands. New England has a stable of multiple really good running backs. Like, REALLY good.
I believe the idea was that this team was going to be a run heavy offense from the start. That 100% seems to be the case, and it makes too much sense as to why. The Patriots can hit you in a couple different ways with a couple different styles of running backs.
Damien Harris has some big expectations after a breakout year in 2020. So far, he is looking up to the task.
Damien Harris with the touchdown 🔥🔥(Via @BenBrownPL) pic.twitter.com/FeEL52e1Wg— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) August 19, 2021
J.J. Taylor made it onto the Patriots’ roster in 2020 due to injuries, but now look like he legitimately belongs there. He looked particularly impressive against the Eagles.
My god, JJ Taylor put a man in the spin cycle 😵💫— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) August 20, 2021
He scored a touchdown on the next play. pic.twitter.com/AhMbs39uzd
Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is beginning to look like one of the steals of the draft. Stevenson has flashed some serious big-play potential these past two weeks.
Rhamondre Stevenson has the talent to be RB1 on an NFL roster pic.twitter.com/y8SzpRL9qc— Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL) August 20, 2021
So far this preseason, Stevenson has rushed for 193 yards and 4 TDs on 25 carries (7.72 YPC). Even if you take his Week 1 big 91-yard TD out of the equation, he has still been wildly impressive. Not to mention a few other capable veterans in Sony Michel, James White, and Brandon Bolden.
This room is deep and filled with talent. Talent that McDaniels will not be afraid to utilize this season. Behind one of the best offensive lines in football, look for New England to be one of the best, if not the best, rushing offenses in the NFL this year.
It’s Time To Move On From N’Keal Harry
This isn’t fun to write. I want Harry to workout in New England as much as the next guy. This just feels like a relationship that is only going to end in one way: divorce.
It doesn’t have the feeling of a messy breakup however. Just two sides that are ready to move on from one another and look towards new horizons. It may sound cliche, but this is what’s best for both parties involved.
Harry would greatly benefit from a fresh start in a new home. The Patriots would greatly benefit from distancing themselves from one of their worst draft misfires of the last decade. A win-win for everyone!
Harry has looked much improved this offseason, but he injured his shoulder against the Eagles. It’s not serious, but chalk it up as just another dent on Harry’s New England stay. Anytime he has begun to look like a competent receiver, injuries or his own level of play seems to always get in the way.
It’s time to just rip the bandaid off and move on.
Gunner Olszewski May Be Getting a Bigger Role
Where one Patriots’ receiver falls, another potentially rises.
Olszewski was joked about being the next Edelman when the Patriots brought him on board in 2019. Two years later, he really does resemble Edelman in many ways. I’m not just talking about their physical appearance either. Both of their career paths have started off in very similar fashions.
Edelman made a name for himself on special teams and looked up to Wes Welker, eventually replacing him. Olszewski made a name for himself on special teams and looked up to Julian Edelman… you get the picture? Some real circle of life stuff going on in Foxborough.
In all seriousness, Olszewski looked to have a pretty good repertoire with Mac Jones on Thursday. He finished the night with 4 receptions for 57 yards, which lead the team in both of those categories.
Gunner Olszewski vs the Eagles last night— Pats Kingdom #BarmoreSZN (@PatsKingdom50) August 20, 2021
14.3 Yards Per Reception
Gunner showing off his receiving abilities🔥pic.twitter.com/fDrwzAfONC
Only time will tell if Gunner will feature more heavily into the offense. My money is on he will, sometime in the near future.
Matthew Judon is Going To Be Special
One of the players that has been getting high praise out of practice is newcomer Matt Judon. The former Raven was, in my opinion, New England’s best signing this offseason.
He’s exactly the type of talent the defense was missing, and his leadership qualities are a major bonus.
He’s the perfect Belichick player. High IQ, hard worker, great character, and is versatile as a defender. Watch any of the 22 snaps he has played this preseason and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Matt Judon has played 22 snaps this preseason. Here are seven of them. pic.twitter.com/YxbMsC8z5U— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) August 20, 2021
The man is a huge difference maker, and I can’t wait to see him in the real action in a few weeks.
Patriots’ Defense is As Elite As It Gets
Following off of the Judon point, New England’s defense in general looks pretty special. It’s only preseason, but regardless, holding both of their opponents to a grand total of 13 combined points in two games is impressive.
Keep in mind we aren’t even really seeing the full display of New England’s defensive potential. This has just been a sneak preview. The Patriots four turnovers forced is also very encouraging, considering that takeaways were the 2019 Patriots’ bread and butter. If memory serves me correct, that defense was pretty darn good.
We haven’t seen anything yet really, but from the little we have witnessed, this defense will be extremely disruptive to opposing offenses.
I truly believe New England has one of the best defenses in football this year. It will really be fun to watch this team bring fear to opposing quarterbacks all year long.
Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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