This precursor should go before every story written about the preseason, especially the first game, even when you win 31-3 as the Patriots did against the Lions on Thursday night. So here it is: never, ever read too much into a preseason performance, either positively or negatively. It's fool's gold. Always has been, always will.
You've been warned.
That being said, even the most unbiased observer couldn't help but flash a wry smile at the demonstration by the Belichick Youth on display at Ford Field.
There was tight end Matt LaCosse (26-years old) catching and running with the game's first big play, a 24-yard reception on the second series.
On third-and-10, N'Keal Harry (21) showed everyone why the Patriots took him in the first round with a great back-shoulder grab on third-and-10 ... and he'd add another for 25.
Maurice Harris (26) caught the touchdown two plays later, and Braxton Berrios (23) converted a big fourth down.
There was J.C. Jackson (23) breaking up a play down the field. Jake Bailey (22) booming his first professional punt with an astounding 5.44 seconds of hangtime.
Jakobi Meyers (22) caught two touchdown passes as an undrafted free agent, including one from Jarrett Stidham (23), who completed 11 of 17 passes for 139 yards through three quarters.
On defense, Derek Rivers (25) had two sacks and Chase Winovich (24) added 1.5. Ja'Whaun Bentley (22) picked up where he left off as a rookie with his own sack.
It was just for starters but, man, what a nice little display of football by the Patriots who are still very much using training wheels. One preseason game doesn't mean anything, but it's obvious there's a little bit of talent in that group.
And if some of them continue to progress, what a breath of fresh air that would be to this team.
Look, we all know the deal. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions and have won three out of the last five. They own the AFC spot in the big game.
But it's also true that this team — as great as it might be — is not getting any younger. And the most recent Super Bowl win aside, the Patriots desperately need an infusion of youth.
And maybe, finally, they're getting it.
Why do they need to start trending a little younger?