The New England Patriots have stunned NFL fans around the world by opting to go with rookie Mac Jones as their starting quarterback and releasing veteran Cam Newton.
What makes the Patriots move even more surprising is the fact that coach Bill Belichick said on multiple occasions that he was counting on Newton being the franchise’s starting quarterback.
Coach Belichick did say that Newton had to work to make that position his own though, and during the pre-season, he used both Jones and Newton in an attempt to see which quarterback would be a better fit for the Patriots starting QB position. It is now clear that Belichick has made his choice and that Newton will have to find himself a new team.
Jones Had a Better Preseason
Cam Newton started all three of the Patriots preseason games. However, he didn’t get as many minutes as he would have wanted. During those three games, he was 14 of 21 for 162 yards, had one touchdown and one interception.
In contrast, Mac Jones, the Patriots’ rookie quarterback, played much more. He was 36 of 52 for 389 yards, had one touchdown, played 107 snaps, and had no interceptions. In other words, Jones played for longer during pre-season but was also the better quarterback of the two.
Surprise Release Has Not Affected Newton
Coach Belichick wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on Newton, though, and seemed to back him all the way until the end. He said that Newton was going in the “right direction” only a day before the Patriots released the veteran quarterback, making his release even more surprising.
As soon as news of Newton’s release started circulating, he went to Instagram to say how he felt about the whole thing. Newton thanked fans, saying he really appreciated “all the love”, but asked people not to feel sorry for him as he was “good”.
Making the QB Position His Own
As surprising as Newton’s release was, it didn’t mean that Jones didn’t work hard to make the starting quarterback berth his own. In fact, he did everything to prove that he could lead the Patriots’ offense.
During one joint training session the Patriots had with the New York Giants, Jones was particularly impressive and looked like an excellent fit for the Patriots’ offense that Belichick favors. Jones said that he was in “game flow” during that session, and that was easy to see for everyone in attendance.
Quickly Earned the Respect of His Teammates
The rookie quarterback has also been a model professional during the pre-season. After the last game of pre-season, he said that he was hoping he would be a starter, but that he was ready to wait for that to happen. He added that he was looking to play any role given and that helping the team was all that mattered to him.
That attitude had quickly earned Jones the respect from teammates rookie players can only dream to get so early in their careers. Trent Brown, the Patriots’ offensive tackle and a veteran figure in the Patriots’ locker room, said that he could see something special in Jones and that his game belied his age.
Patriots’ longest-serving player, Matthew Slater, shared those sentiments and said that Jones was a “great young man” and that he commanded the respect of the older guys in the team, such as himself.
According to Slater, Jones had earned that respect by the way he had carried himself, and that will be great to hear if you are a Patriots fan.
When fit, Newton used to set the bar for NFL quarterbacks pretty high. However, it seems like it is now the time for a younger Patriots quarterback to strike fear into the hearts of opponents.