New England Patriots: 3 winners & 3 losers from preseason finale

D'Angelo Ross #39 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Ross #39 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots wrapped up an undefeated preseason with a solid 22-20 victory over the New York Giants. Things surprisingly came right down to the wire after the Patriots made some very questionable clock-management decisions at the end of the game, and the Giants proceeded to score a touchdown within just under 10 seconds left. Luckily for New England, they failed to convert the ensuing two point conversion, which secured the victory for the Pats.

As is the case with every victory, there were more positive takeaways than negative here. Although this was the closest game New England had throughout their preseason play, the Pats controlled the proceedings for the most part, and aside from a brief scare at the end, the result was never really in doubt. It was a good way to wrap up the preseason, and now the focus shifts to the regular season.

While the final cuts are right around the corner, there is a lot to unpack from tonight’s game, and a lot of what we saw will have a big impact on who ends up sticking and who ends up out of a job. Let’s take a look at three winners and three losers from last night’s preseason finale, starting with a standout performance at cornerback.

New England Patriots Winner No. 3: D’Angelo Ross

It was clear coming into this game this was going to be an important game for the cornerbacks. It certainly didn’t end up being their best night as a unit, but there was one clear standout among the corners fighting for a roster spot, and that was D’Angelo Ross.

Ross is in his third year with the Patriots after spending his rookie season on the injured reserve and then most of last season on the practice squad. He signed a futures contract after last season, giving him a chance to finally crack the 53 man roster. And after he bookended a solid training camp with last night’s standout performance, he may have done just enough to crack the roster.

On a down night overall for the secondary, Ross was one of the standout performers. He made an instant impact, as he picked off Daniel Jones in the end zone on New York’s third drive to help preserve New England’s lead. That would end up being crucial considering the Pats won by just two.

Ross also had another pass deflection on the night as well as three tackles, and generally held up well in coverage compared to his fellow corners. It felt like the cornerback depth chart would be rounded out tonight based on who performed well, and Ross was the best of the bunch. There’s no telling yet whether Ross has done enough to secure a roster spot, but it feels like he’s trending in the right direction in the aftermath of this one.

New England Patriots Winner No. 2: Josh Uche

Josh Uche had been one of the standout performers during training camp, and he finished things off with arguably his best performance yet. Uche continued his utter domination of the Giants with three tackles, one of which was sack and another one that went for a loss, while also picking up two more QB hits in the process. In limited action, Uche was an absolute force yet again for the Pats.

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Uche has seen his role switch from more of an off-ball linebacker to rushing the passer more often, and the results have been splendid throughout camp. Uche has consistently found ways to disrupt the offense, whether it be dropping a quarterback for a sack or breaking up a rushing attempt on the other end. He’s making a push for more snaps when the regular season rolls around, and the coaching staff will have to get creative in finding a proper way to utilize him.

The Patriots lacked any sort of pass rush last season, and to see Uche make a large leap during the offseason is a great sign. Combine his leap with the additions of Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy, and New England suddenly has an abundance of players that can find the other team’s quarterback. Uche has turned a supposed competition at linebacker into a laugher, and looks set to embark on a potential breakout season.

New England Patriots Winner No. 1: Mac Jones

As we will see in a moment, Mac Jones could probably have been named a winner based solely off of how Cam Newton played tonight. But Jones rubbed salt in the wounds by having arguably his best preseason performance last night, and it has left fans wondering whether he could actually be under center come Week 1.

Jones finished the night going 10/14 for 156 yards and a touchdown, good for a 131.8 passer rating. Jones night probably should have been ever better, as Isaiah Zuber dropped a pass that would have been his second touchdown on the night. Rhamondre Stevenson would finish the drive off moments later, leaving Jones with just the one touchdown on the night.

Jones overcame a slow start to lead New England to two effortless touchdown drives to kick off the second quarter. He seems to have a really good grip on the offense, and having a balanced ground game has certainly helped his cause as well. That has helped open up the play action game, and Jones has been picking teams apart off those plays.

The one downside to Jones night was that he took four sacks, often because he held onto the ball too long. Sometimes just checking it down is better than holding out for a receiver downfield to get open, and that was certainly the case tonight. Even then, Jones performance was that of a true winner, and it will be interesting to see when he gets his first regular season action for New England.