Preseason is usually a time for looking at what’s wrong and fixing it, but the New England Patriots looked close to flawless through most of their 30-7 win over the Carolina Panthers, with Tom Brady throwing two touchdown passes in an excellent first half performance from him, something that can’t be said about Cam Newton who also gave his coaching staff quite the injury scare.
The Panthers got on the scoreboard with 1:12 left in the game. Yes, that’s how bad things went for them, as Joe Webb completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to D.C. Jefferson. Cam Newton played until early in the third quarter but was only 8-of-12 for 88 yards and ran 12 more yards on three carries. After being tackled strongly to stop a 7-yard gain he was checked by the medical staff and taken out of the game for one play.
Ron Rivera has spoken about trying to limit Newton’s out-of-the-pocket bootlegs, hoping to give him more protection and more time to make decisions inside the pocket. Those runs of his make him special, but also a lot more prone to hits and eventually injuries. Derek Anderson, Webb and Matt Balnchard didn’t do any better than Newton, although getting less rest than the Patriots might have had something to do with it.
Not that the Patriots cared, winning their second consecutive preseason game. Brady was sharp, completing 17-of-21 passes for 204 yards. He found Shane Vereen on both of his touchdown passes, with Vereen finishing with five receptions and five rushes for 57 yards, as the Patriots found it very to disrupt things on the offensive end for the Panthers and have no problem whatsoever slicing through one of the best defenses last season in the NFL.
Julian Edelman led the Patriots with eight receptions for 99 yards. Taylor McCuller caught one touchdown pass as well, coming later in the game off of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass. Ryan Mallett didn’t get a lot of playing time, completing 2-of-3 passes for 47 yards. The Patriots also forced one interception off of Derek Anderson, returned for 61 yards by Steve Beauharnais. The Panther failed to record a single sack, while the Patriots finished with three, two of them by Chris Jones. All three sacks were on Cam Newton.
The Panthers are looking for consistency, which was hard for them to find last season as well, at least on offense. Right now they need to get more from their offensive line and their receivers if Newton is to have a shot of avoiding risky ventures outside the pocket. Things are far more on the right course for the Patriots, getting ready for another season of being carried by Tom Brady, hoping it last longer than it did last season.