The Patriots fell to the Packers 22-11 in their first preseason game of 2015. The game saw many key players rest and was an opportunity for younger players and new arrivals to get some game action. Not too much can be learned from a contest like this scheme-wise, as neither team game plans. However, some players made their roster bubble case while others increased the hill they have to climb.
The Patriots defense bent early but did not break, allowing three points in the first quarter despite Green Bay being in Patriots territory three times. The Patriots had two fourth down stops, including one inside their own five yard line. Malcolm Butler carried his strong camp into the game and looked solid in coverage early, as did rookie Darryl Roberts, who did leave the game with an injury. Rookies Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason, and David Andrews were the starters in the interior of the offensive line and each held their own. Mason had a great block to help spring Jonas Gray for a touchdown.
Tom Brady got the start, but Jimmy Garoppolo played most of the game at quarterback. Garoppolo had issues throwing behind receivers, especially Boyce, but got better as the game went on. He was sacked seven times, which although partly his fault also was evidence of poor offensive line play in front of him.
Jabaal Sheard entered the game on the second defensive series and showed some of the reasons why New England brought him in this offseason. He drew a holding penalty and had several impressive rushes off the edge, all before halftime. Logan Ryan, on the other hand, did not make a strong case to be a starter come September. He got beat badly by Jeff Janis on a second quarter touchdown that came on fourth down. Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown saw time together in the interior of the defensive line, a combination the Patriots hope will be part of their defense for years to come.
It was also a tough night for Josh Boyce, who had several drops and could have done a better job working back to the ball on a third quarter Garopppolo interception. James White made a strong case to be New England’s third down back, he pass-blocked well and showed flashes of athleticism in the passing game. He capitalized on Brandon Bolden and Travaris Cadet being out due to injuries and the battle for the third down back will be one of the more interesting competitions to watch going forward.
Notable players who did not see the field were Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, and Bryan Stork.