With a little more than two weeks to go until their regular season opener, the New England Patriots will soon have to make a decision about their starting quarterback position. While they may not have set a timeline yet, as head coach Bill Belichick claimed on Thursday morning, the QB1 role will be handed out sooner rather than later.
While Cam Newton still appears to be the frontrunner despite his recent five-day absence due to the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols, a late push by Mac Jones cannot be ruled out either. The first-round rookie, after all, has played some strong football as of late.
With that in mind, would Jones be disappointed if he was not named the Week 1 starter?
“That’s beyond my control. I can just control my effort every day, and I’m trying. I’m putting in a lot of work, and everyone else is too. At the end of the day there should be no drop-off in the quarterback room,” he said following Thursday’s joint practice with the New York Giants.
“Something that Josh [Mc Daniels] always talks about is the standard that we play to in New England. It doesn’t matter if you’re first-string, second-string, third-string, when you go in there’s a standard. I felt like today I could have definitely done better with that, playing up to the standard. Definitely good progress and a lot of reps, so it’s fun, but we have a lot of work to do.”
After taking starter-level reps during the first three practices of the week, Jones was relegated to the number two spot in the rotation after Cam Newton’s return on Thursday. He still saw his fair share of opportunities with the starting offense, but fresh off his best practice as a pro had a bit more ups and downs during the second joint session with the Giants.
“Yesterday, I got a lot of reps. It was great. We communicated and I felt like we were in a really good flow. I kind of got into a game flow,” he said. “Today it was a little bit harder just to get into that, but I can get better just because you just have to watch the tape. There’s things that you see, or you thought you saw, but you just watch it and correct it.”
The Patriots and Giants will meet in the preseason finale on Sunday, giving Jones an opportunity to correct the mistakes he made in practice. It also will give him another shot at proving himself capable of challenging Cam Newton’s standing on the depth chart.
Most importantly, though, it will be an opportunity for him to play up to the standard.