The New England Patriots are reportedly set on having an open competition at training camp between Cam Newton and Mac Jones for the starting job.
Could that just be a smokescreen planted by Bill Belichick?
Perhaps, but that idea doesn’t necessarily align with the rave reviews Jones has received thus far.
According to reports, Jones was the superior quarterback to Newton during OTAs and mandatory minicamp before the former MVP returned from a hand injury and balled out in the last practice before summer break.
Nevertheless, at this juncture it’d be foolish to rule out the prospect of Jones being under center for the Patriots in Week 1 of next season.
The Alabama product wouldn’t be in this situation if not for all the hard work he’s put in following the draft. Apparently, that exhausting routine included reaching out to Peyton and Eli Manning for advice on what it takes to succeed as quarterback in the NFL.
Patriots QB Mac Jones learned a lot from the Manning brothers.
Not all Patriots fans will know this, but Jones was as accurate and proficient as any quarterback in the nation last season, his first as the starter. He ranked first in both completion percentage (77.4%) and yards per attempt (11.2). Unbelievable.
However, Jones is already learning that the NFL is a different game. Not only will the rookie’s pocket collapse quicker, but his receivers won’t be able to gain nearly as much separation as they did at Alabama. Look no further than Devonta Smith’s numbers.
For a quarterback that doesn’t boast a ton of athleticism, at least compared to the modern-day signal caller (Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, etc.), Jones’ accuracy and decision-making will need to be his calling cards in the NFL.
The NFL is a game of inches, and Patriots fans should love that was the main takeaway from Jones’ conversation with the Manning brothers, who are two of the most successful gunslingers, as far as winning is concerned, in league history.
They also had a knack for showing up for the big occasion.
From Peyton holding the record for most fourth quarter comebacks, to Eli Manning’s legacy-defining completions to David Tyree and Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI, Jones can certainly learn a thing or two from the them.
Those are undoubtedly two the worst moments in Patriots history, but the franchise will be hoping the Manning brothers’ advice helps Jones develop a similar clutch gene down the road. For now, however, we’ll settle for improved accuracy as he battles Newton for the starting job.