Have any New England Patriots fans ever been this excited for a training camp? While there have been numerous positional battles over the years, it’s been over two decades since the franchise has delivered an actual quarterback competition at camp.
And no, last year’s battle between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham doesn’t qualify. T
hough considered a legitimate competition, it was clear to almost everyone — outside of a few Boston-based pundits and reporters — that Newton would win in a landslide.
This season, as we know, is an entirely different story, though countless analysts still believe Newton has a leg up on first-round pick Mac Jones.
However, we wouldn’t be quick to write Jones off. Not only has he impressed the coaching staff throughout the offseason, especially during OTAs and minicamp, but he seemingly already has the support and respect of his teammates. That doesn’t happen very often for a rookie QB.
In fact, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk understands Newton is starting to lose the trust of the Patriots’ locker room in terms of whether he’s the right guy for the job.
Is Cam Newton losing the support of his Patriots teammates?
Here’s what Florio had to say in his latest column.
"“Per a league source, multiple current teammates believe Newton simply isn’t the guy he once was. Given how spectacular he once was, that’s arguably the stuff of Captain Obvious. Regardless, the presence of those thoughts lays the foundation for teammates to have an open mind about the possibility that Jones may be the better option. And the opinions of the other men in the locker room go a long way toward determining whether the decision by the coaching staff as to who will play quarterback will be accepted.”"
Well, that certainly isn’t what we were expecting to hear with training camp kicking off in a matter of hours. Newton is obviously highly regarded in the Patriots organization, but these rumors indicate his teammates (at least some of them, anyway) think Jones is the better option.
It’s easy to see why they would think that after the campaign Newton put together last year, but let’s not forget how many obstacles he had to overcome. From testing positive for COVID-19, which resulted in him being away from the team for more than a week, and not having nearly enough time to learn the playbook, the odds were stacked against him from the jump.
Additionally, the Patriots had a bottom-of-the-barrel receiving corps. Though it still isn’t a world-beater, the unit was improved this offseason. Shouldn’t Newton, whose leadership, attitude and work ethic have helped fill the void Tom Brady left in his wake, get at least another season under center to prove himself before his teammates starts turning on him? We’d certainly like to think so.
Nobody would argue that Newton is the MVP player he was back in 2015, but if he can show flashes of the stud he was just three years ago in Carolina, his teammates who think he’s past it will come around and realize he can still be that guy when surrounded by adequate talent.
2021 NFL Rookie of the Year Odds
Oddsmakers are relatively non-plussed about Mac Jones winning this honor whether he starts the year or not; per WynnBET, he currently ranks as the seventh-likeliest option at +1300, but sits behind four other quarterbacks.
Trevor Lawrence is predictably your favorite at +350, while Justin Fields (+700), Trey Lance (+700), and Zach Wilson (+900) are all ahead of Jones in the race to take home the hardware.