Patriots

Patriots overreactions: Did Mac show enough to start Week 1?

Patriots

That's all she wrote for the New England Patriots' preseason as they wrapped it up with a 22-20 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.

The final exhibition gave us plenty to think about as we await the regular season. Of course, the question at the top of everyone's mind is who will start at quarterback for the Patriots when they face the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. If Sunday's game was any indication, it'll be a tough decision for head coach Bill Belichick.

Perry: Updated 53-man roster projection ahead of final cuts

Here's what we're overreacting to after watching the Patriots' preseason finale.

Mac Jones makes final case to start Week 1

It wasn't a strong start for either Patriots quarterback on Sunday. Cam Newton started under center and completed two of his five passes for 10 yards while throwing an interception that was tough to blame him for. It simply was a spectacular play by Giants linebacker Blake Martinez.

Jones took it from there in the second quarter and didn't fare much better vs. the Giants' starters. The rookie was sacked twice and couldn't get the offense in much of a flow. It didn't help that Gunner Olszewski dropped a perfectly thrown pass on one play then had a miscommunication with Jones on another to end the first half.

The second half, however, was a different story for Jones and the Patriots. Jones bounced back to complete five of seven passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in his first two drives of the third quarter. He finished the game 10/14 with 156 yards and the TD.

 

Despite Jones' impressive performance, Newton appears to be in line to start Week 1. The veteran started all three preseason games and totaled only 39 snaps. That seems to suggest Belichick already has made up his mind.

Regardless, Jones once again gave Pats fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the new season.

Gunner Olszewski still has work to do at WR

With N'Keal Harry's status for Week 1 up in the air, that fourth spot on the Patriots' wide receiver depth chart is an area of concern. Gunner Olszewski's performance Sunday didn't help matters.

Olszewski had a bad drop in the second quarter, then a miscommunication with Mac Jones at the end of the first half that led to him getting an earful from the rookie QB.

Olszewski still has obvious value as a punt returner, but it's clear he still hasn't figured out how to be a consistent receiving option. With Harry hurt and Olszewski struggling, it's fair to wonder whether we'll see Kristian Wilkerson (4 rec, 72 yds) crack the roster.

The Patriots' rushing attack looks lethal

New England's running back room has been impressive all preseason. So much so, that the Patriots felt comfortable trading Sony Michel to the Rams earlier this week.

On Sunday, we saw why Belichick was comfortable parting ways with his former first-round draft pick.

J.J. Taylor had nine carries for 76 yards (8.4 yards per carry) and two catches for 13 yards. The 5-foot-6 back they call "Little Dion" looks like a player who can make a legitimate impact for New England this season.

Taylor also laid out Giants defensive end Leonard Williams, who weighs about 100 pounds more than him, for good measure. There's plenty to love about the undrafted Arizona product.

Possibly the biggest beneficiary of the Michel trade is rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, who carried the ball five times for 23 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards. He also notched his fifth TD of the preseason.

Damien Harris tallied four carries for 29 yards in his brief appearance.

Redemption for Quinn Nordin

To say Nordin struggled last week vs. the Eagles would be a major understatement. The rookie kicker missed a field goal and two extra-point attempts, putting a damper on what otherwise has been an impressive camp.

He bounced back in Sunday's game, drilling two of his three field goals with a long of 48 yards and converting his lone PAT. His one miss came from 54 yards late in the fourth quarter.

Nordin making the Patriots' final roster is far from a guarantee, but he at least put his potential on display in the preseason finale. We'll know whether Nordin makes the cut this week as the deadline for the 53-man roster is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

The Patriots will open their regular season on Sept. 12 when they host the Dolphins.