Former NFL MVP Cam Newton is returning to the New England Patriots for a second season after some major struggles during his initial stint with the team.
Could this lead to a training camp competition for the Patriots’ starting quarterback job once camp opens up in roughly a month? This sure seems to be the case.
“After an uneven campaign with Newton under center, a legit competition is on tap for the summer of ’21, especially after what we witnessed this spring, with rookie Mac Jones looking every bit the part of the first-round draft pick he is,” NFL Media’s Mike Giardi noted on Monday.
All reports relating to Jones, a star for Alabama’s national championship team last season, have been great since he put on a Patriots uniform. Meanwhile, Cam Newton has acted as a solid veteran presence and is not threatened by New England taking a younger counterpart early in the annual event.
“As far as having any chip on the shoulder, you’re stating the obvious,” he added. “I don’t need too much to get myself going. It’s no disrespect to Mac. It’s no disrespect to (coach) Bill (Belichick) and his decision. I support it 110 percent, because you still have to do what’s right for the organization, for the long haul,” Cam Newton told reporters earlier in June.
The case for Cam Newton: Experience and a dual-threat ability
Despite throwing just eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 starts a season ago, Newton’s ability to make waves on the ground came through big time. The three-time Pro Bowler recorded a league-best 12 rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position.
Looking at it through this lens, Newton might make sense to be the Patriots’ Week 1 starter when they open up their 2021 NFL schedule against the division-rival Miami Dolphins. Remember, Jones is seen as the least-mobile top-end quarterback prospect from the Class of 2021.
As for experience, Newton has a boatload of that. He’s started 139 games throughout what has been a brilliant 10-year career that was just recently derailed by injuries. Now that Newton has a better feel for the Patriots’ offense, he should improve leaps and bounds from a season ago.
The case for Mac Jones: It’s pretty simple for the New England Patriots
“The 22-year old out of Alabama was fast-tracked during the course of OTAs and mandatory minicamp, on a number of occasions getting more reps than the incumbent Newton and, up until the final day of minicamp, looking better than Cam…It’s not just the physical that stands out. The Pats have thrown everything at Jones, and his grasp of a playbook that’s over 20 years in the making has been impressive,” Giardi noted in his report.
Outside of No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, Jones is seen as the most pro-ready quarterback from the most-recent NFL Draft class. He dealt with a pro-style playbook at Alabama and dominated to the tune of 41 touchdowns compared to four interceptions while completing 77% of his passes.
An argument can clearly be made that Jones is already more accurate than Cam Newton. That’s no big thing in the Patriots’ timing-based offense under longtime coordinator Josh McDaniels and after the team added a ton of reinforcements at the skill positions during free agency.