We made it, folks. Training camp has officially arrived, which means we’ll get five or six consecutive months of New England Patriots football. Man, it feels good to say that.
By the looks of it, the Patriots are going to be an incredibly entertaining bunch this year, and training camp figures to be a great springboard for what’s to come.
Of course, the most compelling story of camp is the quarterback competition between Cam Newton and No. 15 overall pick Mac Jones, whom many insiders and pundits are projecting to defeat the former MVP and start for the Patriots in Week 1.
That could happen, but let’s take a pause for the cause, people. After all, Jones has just one practice under his belt and will experience a few hiccups during camp.
It goes without saying that everything Jones does will be analyzed under a microscope, so we might as well provide an in-depth look at his first two days of camp, right?
Here are the biggest takeaways from Mac Jones’ first two days of camp.
The overwhelming majority of reviews were positive for Jones. Patriots fans will enjoy hearing Jones showed excellent chemistry with free agent addition Nelson Agholor, with whom he connected twice in the back corner of the end zone in 11-on-11 drills.
The Alabama product finished 9-for-19 (47.3%) for the day, which included 7-on-7 competitive drills. While Jones might not have outperformed Newton in terms of efficiency — the incumbent starter went 8-of-15 (53.3%) — he held the advantage in the turnover department.
Newton tossed two interceptions, though one could’ve been erased had fellow free agent acquisition Hunter Henry put up more of a fight to wrestle the ball from Adrian Phillips. Still, Newton committing turnovers can only bode well for Jones’ chances.
It’s worth noting, however, that Jones had his own boneheaded mistake on Wednesday, as a fumbled snap resulted in him taking a lap around the field as punishment. Aside from that and a few misplaced throws, the rookie quarterback looked ready for the moment.
In fact, per Patriots reporter Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Jones made some absolutely beautiful throws on the day, most of which came in the corner of the end zone.
That’s extremely encouraging, as it suggests Jones already has a solid understanding of how to use the end zone to his advantage. While accuracy and decision-making are paramount near the goal line, knowing how to pin defenders along the boundaries is a skill very few QBs have.
As for Day 2, Jones, who was the second player out on the field, was outplayed by Newton. Per reports, Jones finished a respectable 8-of-15, though he had a couple errant throws and a forgettable end to practice, completing just two of nine passes in team drills.
Newton, meanwhile, went 9-of-15 and led a picture-perfect red zone drill in which he completed five of six passes, fitting throws into tight windows and making quick decisions. We don’t have to remind Patriots fans how much Newton struggled in those departments last year.
It’s like we said all along: Newton isn’t going to go silently into the night and let Jones, a rookie with one year of starting experience at Alabama, steal his job.
At the same time, however, the fact that Jones looked like he belonged on the field with the starters is enough reason for fans to be pleased with his first two practices.