By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff

Let me just get this out in the open: I thought the game against Jacksonville was atrocious.

Aaron Hernandez didn't get the preseason off to a great start.

Maybe that’s too harsh a criticism, especially for preseason standards, but despite the score to me it just did not feel like a dominant performance. Not to go all Captain Buzz-kill here, but I would just like to make a few observations about it:

  • Danny Woodhead fumbled once, only to be outdone by Aaron Hernandez’s two fumbles.
  • Taylor Price bobbled the ball twice, one of which resulted in an interception, and the other almost negated his own touchdown.
  • Brian Hoyer can’t throw a spiral to save his life. His throws look like someone throwing a Nerf football for the first time — it gets there but it’s not pretty.
  • Our defense got shredded and was only saved by the fact that the Jaguars kicked 4 field goals.
  • To top it off, their running backs, Jennings and Karim, looked like they were Barry Sanders truncated into Maurice Jones-Drew’s body and given a Michael Vick NOS booster shot. Somehow, I really doubt that they are that good.

Considering all of this, I was surprised to find out upon my return from a 2 week, internet-free vacation, how much Super Bowl hype there was around here!

Let’s pump the brakes a little bit here. Have people forgotten the loss to the Giants, or Tom Brady’s knee injury? It’s like we have instantly forgotten how arduous a task it is to take home the trophy, and how many things need to line up for it to actually happen.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for enthusiasm and getting pumped for the upcoming season, but anointing Super Bowl favorites is not what the preseason is all about.

The preseason is all about getting a look at new acquisitions, 2nd year players who might have made ‘the jump’, and highly touted rookies whose draft grades you have spent hours reading and arguing about, despite never having seen them play.

This is the time to make judgment calls about which situational players you are excited about so you can point them out to your less-diehard friends. August is the time when you fall in love with unheralded youngsters like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and  Rob Gronkowski, and relentlessly call The SportsHub about them, and feel vindicated when they later become big contributors to the team.

Otherwise, the preseason performance matters little, as everyone knows that the 2008 Lions went 4-0, only to sputter to 0-16 in the regular season. This is especially true this season, where teams have to deal with a truncated offseason.

Beating Blaine Gabbert and Josh Freeman, both very young quarterbacks who are still learning and would have benefited greatly from OTAs, is completely inconsequential.

Anyways, again, don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about the Patriots this season, and it was great to see Stevan Ridley’s breakout performance. I just think that everyone should just take some of Bill Belichick’s advice and focus on the next opponent and how the team can get better.

Speaking of which, it will be great to see how our offensive line, with the addition of first-round pick Nate Solder holds up against the unstoppable Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions. I can’t wait.