Earlier this week, the New England Patriots released quarterback Cam Newton, marking an end to a short-lived era in New England. With Newton released, the move clears the way for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who the Pats subsequently named week one starter. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels explained the decision to do so.
“When you look at the whole body of work since he’s gotten here…he’s been well-prepared each day to come in and do the things we ask our players to do…he’s improved. He’s generally taken care of the football.”Josh McDaniels on Mac Jones
The Patriots selected Jones with the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He marked the fifth quarterback off the board.
The selection came after a standout 2020 season at Alabama, in which Jones led the Crimson Tide to a National Championship trophy. He passed for 4,500 yards with an absurd 41:4 touchdown to interception ratio, earning him a third-place finish in Heisman voting.
Those college stats already made Jones a strong contender for the starting job. But Jones’ performance in training camp and preseason solidified things. Jones compiled 389 passing yards and a touchdown on 36/52 passing in the preseason. The stat line bested that of Newton, who saw considerably less playing time in such games.
Speaking of Newton, some have wondered whether his recent COVID-19 incident played into his release. However, head coach Bill Belichick quickly shot down those rumors in stern, Bill Belichick fashion.
Following his release, Newton’s up-and-down one-year stint in New England ends abruptly. It’s unclear where Newton’s storied NFL career goes after this. He reached incredible heights during his 2015 MVP campaign but has since struggled to re-assert himself. Injuries and age have taken their toll on the quarterback.
For Jones, the praise from McDaniels couldn’t have come at a better time. The Patriots are just 11 days from their week one matchup against Miami. With new challenges ahead, the praise should serve as a timely confidence booster for the young Jones.