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
Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots loser No. 3: Gunner Olszewski

It wasn’t that Gunner Olszewski did anything wrong last night, it’s that he didn’t do anything at all. Olszewski failed to record a catch on just two targets, and watched his reps in the kick and punt return game go to Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor. It’s fair to wonder based off this performance whether Olszewski’s roster spot is in jeopardy.

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Olszewski was coming off a solid performance last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team in both catches and yards, hauling in four passes for 57 yards. Olszewski has always been seen as a special teams ace of sorts, so any production from him in the passing game was a welcome sight.

That was nonexistent against the Giants last night. Olszewski made no impact whatsoever in the passing game, and didn’t even get reps as a returner, which is his specialty. If he’s losing reps in his area of expertise, is there reason to think he won’t make the final cut? Time will soon tell, but tonight was certainly not a good night for Olszewski.

New England Patriots loser No. 2:  The cornerback room

As previously mentioned, tonight was a big night for the secondary, and they chose a bad time to have their worst performance of the preseason. Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon combined to go 26/39 for 255 yards and three touchdowns, with Jones also throwing an interception along the way. Those aren’t lights out numbers, but the Pats secondary had been lockdown in the previous two games, and just couldn’t follow it up tonight.

Of the guilty parties on the touchdowns, it appeared Adrian Colbert, Michael Jackson Sr., and the newly acquired Shaun Wade were in coverage on the scores. Wade made up for his late game blunder by playing some good coverage on a fade route to prevent the Giants from tying the game. But all night long, it didn’t feel like the secondary was living up to expectations.

It was tough to see this type of performance from a position that features so much competition. On a night where somebody could have put the competition to rest, nobody really did aside from Ross, and even then it may not be enough for him to stick around. The cornerbacks certainly didn’t make the cut down decision at the position any easier for their coaches with this one.

New England Patriots loser No.1: Cam Newton

Cam Newton could have cemented himself as the Patriots Week 1 starter (if he isn’t already) with a solid performance tonight. Instead, he dropped an absolute dud in limited action, completing just 2/5 passes for 10 yards and an interception. The interception was admittedly not his fault, but this still is not a great look for Newton.

Just last week against the Eagles, it looked like Newton had finally locked down the position with a pristine effort. But since then, he’s only missed five days with a COVID issue, watched Mac Jones excel when given first team reps, and then he does virtually nothing last night against the Giants. It’s certainly not the position we expected to see him in a week ago.

And with Jones coming in behind him once again looking like a chiseled veteran, the quarterback competition has never looked more open than it does now. Newton admittedly isn’t getting much time to work himself into these games, but he just didn’t have it tonight while Jones did. It’s just a preseason game, but what if it happens in a regular season game?

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Newton’s lackadaisical outing could come back to hurt him, and it appears like there’s a real shot Jones will be the starter Week 1. Newton’s existence in New England almost certainly relies on his ability to come in and start, but he may not even be able to accomplish that with Jones breathing down his neck. Newton could have had this position locked up by now, but a poor performance last night sees him heading into the regular season with a cloud of uncertainty tied to his name.