BOSTON -- After a month or so of hearing about the Patriots' offense, fans finally got to actually see the Patriots' offense on Friday night. The results were mixed ... but it started quite ugly.
With the Patriots playing most of their regular offensive starters/snap leaders (save for Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn on the line, Hunter Henry at tight end, and Kendrick Bourne at receiver) against the Panthers, it was the first real game action for Mac Jones and the No. 1 offense -- which appeared to have been being run by Matt Patricia on the sideline.
The first drive ... gained zero yards in a three-and-out.
The second drive ... gained three yards, also in a three-and-out.
It was a choppy start, no doubt. Considering the Panthers were resting almost all of their defensive starters, it wasn't the most inspiring showing.
The Patriots' offense came onto the field for their third drive late in the first quarter, and they quickly faced a third-and-5. This drive, though, didn't die as soon as it started, with Jones quickly hitting an uncovered Nelson Agholor in the left slot for an easy gain of seven yards and fresh set of downs.
The offense ended up driving all the way into the end zone -- a 10-play, 81-yard drive -- with a deep shot to Agholor and some solid work from Ty Montgomery responsible for most of it.
Montgomery converted a third-and-4 with a 5-yard reception on the first play of the second quarter, and Jones launched a deep ball up the left sideline for a big 45-yard gain on the next snap.
Jones scrambled for a seven-yard gain on the next play, and Montgomery ran for four yards to pick up a first down on the next snap.
And on first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Jones handed to Montgomery, who easily made his way into the end zone.
Jones was 4-for-5 for 61 yards on the drive, and he had the 7-yard scramble. Montgomery picked up two first downs and the touchdown, accounting for 12 yards on his four touches.
That ended up being the end of the night for Mac Jones. Brian Hoyer entered for a series with the regulars, picking up a quick 30 yards on two passes to DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton. A penalty for 12 men in the huddle pushed them back into a first-and-15, though, and they ended up punting after Hoyer's third-down pass over the middle was nearly intercepted.
The details of the first two drives weren't quite as positive.
After a Damien Harris gain of six on the first offensive snap, Jones threw behind Parker on a slant on second down. On Third down, James Ferentz got bum-rushed by Julian Stanford, who finished the play with a sack of Jones for a loss of six.
The second drive was just as futile. Rhamondre Stevenson ran for three yards on first down, and Jones threw high over Jakobi Meyers on an in-cut off play-action on second down. On third down, Stevenson left the backfield as a safety valve for Jones, but Stevenson didn't look for the ball when Jones released the short pass. It fell incomplete, and the Patriots were once again forced to punt.
Stat-wise, Jones was 4-for-8 for 61 yards. Harris rushed for 18 yards on his three carries. Agholor had two receptions for 52 yards, both of which went for first downs.
Taken in total, it wasn't a great night for the offense. The first two drives were bad, the third drive was good, and it all came against backups.
But at the very least, it's something. Something to build on, something to improve, something to actually see, as the Patriots and their new-look offense inch closer to the regular season.
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