The New England Patriots made an enormous investment in the quarterback position this offseason: for the first time in Bill Belichick’s two-decade tenure as head coach, the team spent a first-round draft selection on a passer. Whether or not the pick will pay dividends further down the road remains to be seen, but the expectation obviously is that Mac Jones can turn into a viable franchise quarterback.
At the moment, however, Jones’ impact on New England’s passing offense can merely be projected. It is therefore no surprise that the team’s quarterback room still ranks near the middle of the pack in a recent ranking by Mile High Report:
16. New England Patriots
Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Jarrett Stidham
Newton completed 65.8% of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2020. 66.8% of his passes were on target by SIS charting, while 75.5% were deemed catchable. He took a sack on 7.3% of his dropbacks. He also rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns with four fumbles.
Jones was drafted 15th overall after starting 17 games at Alabama. He wins with his eyes, anticipation, and playing within the structure of his offense. It’s going to be fascinating to watch him try to live up to the Tom Brady comparisons.
Stidham was the fourth round pick Foxboro faithful believed in until Bill Belichick found a starting caliber quarterback. 52.3% of his 2020 passes were on target and he took a sac on 7.8% of his dropbacks.
The Patriots quarterbacks coming in 16th place even after what was a disappointing season for the position group in 2020 might be a slight surprise, but it can be seen as a reflection of the cautious optimism surrounding it heading into the new year.
New England upgraded at wide receiver and especially tight end in free agency, and Cam Newton is in a better position as the team’s QB1 than he was a year ago. Seeing him improve from what was a bad statistical outing last year would not be a surprise — that is if he can hold onto the starting role against the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft.
Either way, the Patriots’ outlook at quarterback is certainly a better one today than it was a year ago.