I've said it so many times that I've lost count: "It's the preseason. It doesn't matter." That being said, the last preseason game REALLY doesn't matter. I don't think there's too much worth dissecting from last night's loss to New York, but I'll make some quick observations.
Surprisingly, most of the projected starters did play in this game. That's not a typical play from Bill Belichick, but given the lack of possession time against St. Louis, it's reasonable to think that he may have wanted to give the offense more opportunities to work on things against NFL-caliber competition.
Tom Brady looked strong once again. Brady's been having a dominant preseason and if there's any reason to be optimistic about the 2010 season, it's him. In the handful of cases where a QB has gone down with an ACL injury, the general trend is that it takes a season for him to get back to form. Brady was a tad shaky in '09, so the fact that all signs are pointing to a total bounceback from his injury is reassuring.
Part of Brady's success can easily be attributed to the Pats' improved play at the tight end position. Last season, the tight ends were nowhere to be found. Already, Brady has shown a penchant for hitting his new targets, connecting with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski multiple times this preseason, including one to Gronk last night.
While the offense has certainly been clicking, questions remain about the defense. After a strong first two games in which they locked down both New Orleans and Atlanta, the D has been shaky during its last two outings. That's to be expected from such a young unit, but it's also a bit unsettling considering the top-flight competition the Patriots will face early on in their 2010 schedule. McCourty, Butler, Spikes, Mayo, and Chung have all looked solid at times last night and through the preseaon. Their being consistent will be a big key between the Patriots being contenders or a mediocre 9-7 or 8-8.
So that's a wrap! The preseason is over. From now on, the games DO matter. Overall, the Patriots have showed a lot of promise and I'm cautiously optimistic that we're in for a fun year.