Though the New England Patriots nabbed Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft, it was largely expected that Cam Newton would begin the season as the starter before eventually giving way to the rookie out of Alabama.
While that hasn’t been confirmed, insiders around the NFL have speculated that the Pats plan to redshirt Jones while he learns the playbook and transforms his body.
Spending most of the 2021 season donning a headset and holding a clipboard on the sidelines while taking pointers from Newton would simply be in Jones’ best interest rather than the 22-year-old quarterback being thrust into the starting job from Day 1, right?
We certainly like to think so.
However, insider Albert Breer had an eye-opening assessment of New England’s quarterback situation in his latest MMQB column for Sports Illustrated.
He even went as far as to say that Jones has earned a “real competition” with Newton for the starting job.
Is Mac Jones actually battling Cam Newton for the Patriots’ starting QB job?
"“Feedback I’ve gotten on Jones is that he’s what the Patriots thought they were getting when they took him 15th—which is to say he’s a heady field general, if somewhat limited physically,” Breer wrote.“If Jones is out there with the first offensive-line group then, even if it’s just a percentage of those snaps, then I’d say we know something is afoot. My sense right now is that Jones has done enough in the spring to merit a real competition with Cam Newton in the summer.”"
It’s impossible to know what Belichick is thinking, and the veteran head coach has done nothing but rave about Newton since the Patriots re-signed him this offseason. However, Belichick is always going to do what’s in the best interest of the team.
It’s also worth noting that Newton has been a little sloppy thus far during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. The former MVP has made a number of egregious throws in practice that make you scratch your head and wonder how a high-profile quarterback could possibly be that inaccurate … especially during a drill with zero coverage and no pass rush.
With all that being said, the Patriots would be out of their minds to throw Jones to the wolves as a rookie. If we had to guess, we’d say the sole purpose of this report was to light a fire under Newton and remind him that Belichick isn’t afraid to make bold decisions.
While there’s something to be said for Jones being the first player to show up for practice and one of the last to leave the facility, we won’t get a full grasp on his progress until training camp, when the intensity is turned up several notches.
That’ll likely be when Newton begins to separate himself from Jones.