In the post-Tom Brady era in New England, the Patriots drafted who they believe will be their quarterback of the future in Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones, but incumbent veteran Cam Newton isn’t going down without a fight. Last year’s starting quarterback must fend off the first-round draft pick, who gets his first opportunity in game action during the preseason opener against the Washington Football Team.
This game could go a long way in determining how close Jones is to seizing the starting quarterback nod.
There’s a true quarterback competition in New England
On Monday, the manner in which practice was run fully confirms that there is, in fact, a true competition at the quarterback position. This is not Newton’s team with Jones waiting in the wing and developing — this is a battle to determine who will be the Week 1 starting quarterback. Jones is squarely in the mix for that honor.
During the aforementioned practice, Newton took the first reps, as normal. Then, as the first-string offense moved off the field, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer took the field. After Hoyer got his reps, Jones took the field … along with the first-string offense.
Head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels creatively put together a script that would allow both quarterbacks to get meaningful reps with the starting offense.
During the competitive portion of practice, Jones finished 8-of-11, and Newton finished 4-of-10, according to NBC Sports.
Jones has a chance to be the Week 1 starter
Bellichick is going to play both Jones and Newton in the preseason opener against Washington. The Patriots will want to see a lot of Jones so they will have plenty of film to analyze in an attempt to answer the pressing question — how quickly can the quarterback of the future become the quarterback of the present?
“The fact that Mac can go in, get yelled at, bounce back, and come back and do the right thing, and not make the same mistakes twice, that’s something that’s really good to be a Patriot and have,” Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers said, according to Henry McKenna of USA Today.
Against a great defensive team, if Jones can do what he was known for at Alabama — make smart decisions, quickly navigate the pocket, deliver the ball accurately and on time, don’t turn the ball over — he will add more heat to the starting quarterback debate.
Jones had a stellar final season in Alabama
After waiting his turn behind Tua Tagovailoa, Jones came in as the starting quarterback for 2020 and put together a stellar campaign that rocketed him up draft boards.
In 13 games, he threw for a visually pleasing 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He did so with a sterling 77.4 completion percentage en route to a national championship. His passing yards and completion percentage were both good for the highest in college football last year. Jones was a Heisman finalist alongside his teammate, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who ended up winning the award.
Jones is the quarterback of the future in Foxborough, but the future could quickly become the present if he carries the hot streak he’s been on over the last week into the preseason.