Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Friday, August 22, 2014
Observation Deck: New England Patriots

By Mike Reiss



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There is always a danger of reading too much into preseason football, so this thought is passed along with a note of caution: If the New England Patriots play defense like they did Friday night against the Carolina Panthers, they will position themselves as the team to beat in the AFC.

Some might argue they are already there, but what stood out was the way they swarmed the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton, who didn't score during their time on the field (into the third quarter).

Outside linebacker/defensive end Chandler Jones was one of the star performers, working against converted right tackle Byron Bell and picking up two sacks and another tackle for a loss. Meanwhile, the coverage in the secondary was generally up to par and there weren’t as many penalty flags for illegal contact and defensive holding as there were in the first two weeks of the preseason.

Here are some other thoughts on the game: