New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots breaks free for a touchdown run against the Washington Football Team in the second half at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

The 2021 New England Patriots have finally played an actual football game. So it’s time to take stock of the best (and worst) of the players’ performance in Thursday’s preseason win over the Washington Football Team.

Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones both rated “neutral” on the night, neither up nor down. Newton redeemed himself after nearly losing the football on a hit by WFT defensive end Chase Young on his first pass attempt, going 3-of-4 for 44 yards on his second drive, which ended with a Quinn Nordin field goal. Newton’s too-fast throw for James White stalled the drive, adding up to a night that wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t overly impressive either.

Jones, meanwhile, went 13-of-19 for 87 yards. To be fair, if Kristian Wilkerson (more on him later) catches Jones’ well-thrown deep ball in the end zone, the box score and the overall conversation are both very different. His throwing accuracy was good and noticeably better than Newton’s, which has been the case in training camp, and Jones certainly looked like someone who will be ready to take the reins at some point in his rookie season. But the Patriots also went just 2-for-7 on third down with Jones at quarterback, and the rookie settled for a lot of check-downs to the running back, which could leave a lot to be desired for Bill Belichick.

Now that we’ve got the QBs out of the way, let’s focus on other positions, and who was graded either “up” or “down,” for a variety of reasons, after the Patriots’ preseason opener…

MORE: Mac Jones looks the part in preseason opener

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at