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MMQB: Mac Jones may have done enough to get a ‘real competition’ with Cam Newton this summer

Related: Mac Jones was ‘the right pick’ in Cam Newton’s eyes

NFL: New England Patriots Minicamp Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The hype and intrigue surrounding the New England Patriots quarterback situation going into the 2021 season has been a classic case of “this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”

On one hand, Bill Belichick has never, ever shied away from pulling the trigger on whatever he thinks is best for the football team, whether it’s trading a superstar, starting a fresh-out-of-college rookie, or being aggressive in situations that’d have most other coaches sharting their boxer-briefs. On the other hand, Bill’s stood by Cam Newton through the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2020 campaign and not only deemed it appropriate to bring Cam back to New England for 2021, but also to give him a healthy little pay bump compared to last year’s minimum deal to do so. It seems preposterous that Bill would trust the Patriots’ (presumably) vastly-upgraded offense to a rookie so soon....right?

(side note, I had to re-read the “unstoppable force meets an immovable object” line 5 times for proofreading purposes, because over the weekend my brain crossed that line with “between a rock and a hard place” and it came out of my mouth “it’s like when an unstoppable force meets a hard place” and my girlfriend just looked at me for a second before saying “.......what??”)

Fortunately, before he packed his bags for va-ca-tion, the MMQB’s Albert Breer dropped what he knew about the Patriots QB competition a few thousand words deep in his Monday column - right after a whole slew of Sean McVay stories and an Aaron Rodgers update (the jokes about NFL media knowing where their bread is buttered just write themselves), and seems to lean towards the perhaps-obvious point that it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted or how many Pro Bowls you’ve made, Bill Belichick is going to start the best man for the job, period, end of story.


While we’re talking rookie quarterbacks, Mac Jones’s progress is worth noting. And the 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. But I would not make much of who he’s lined up with during the spring. More than a couple of people who know that program well, both in reference to Jones and other guys, have mentioned to me how Bill Belichick works reps this time of year. And really, it reflects that the Patriots aren’t in a spot where it’s “competitive” for jobs yet. Belichick uses May and June for teaching, fundamentals and conditioning, and mixes and matches players throughout. And he’s never been above using the sessions that are open to the media for his own purposes. The real test, to me, was always going to be in training camp, and more specifically when the pads go on. 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. And my sense right now is that Jones has done enough in the spring to merit a real competition with Cam Newton in the summer.

Hey, if nothing else, it’s a far more preferable method of determining your starting quarterback than the Bears and their Twitter Fingers before the draft, right?

Anyway, Windy City social media practices notwithstanding, this assessment would certainly lean towards the idea that when the pads are on and, as Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears once put it “the bullets start flying”, if Mac Jones wins out and proves to be the better option, he wins out. Again, this is just Breer’s read on the situation based on what he’s heard, but even so, it’s encouraging that the Patriots aren’t putting any kind of artificial timelines on when they’ll actually consider giving Mac a legitimate chance at winning the starting QB job.

What do you all think? Would the Patriots give Mac Jones a real shot at winning the quarterback competition, assuming there is one, or is Cam Newton the starter regardless?


Will the Patriots actually let Mac Jones compete for starting quarterback?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Yes, of course
    (466 votes)
  • 13%
    Probably not
    (85 votes)
  • 15%
    Maybe? Probably?
    (99 votes)
650 votes total Vote Now