Mac Jones lights up New England Patriots practice with Cam Newton out, makes case for starting job

It appeared for a while that Cam Newton had a leg up on Mac Jones in the New England Patriots’ quarterback competition, but any narrative in the NFL can change very quickly, and it may have on Wednesday.

With Newton missing and stuck in COVID-19 protocols, Jones eviscerated the New York Giants’ defense in joint practice. ESPN’s Mike Reiss suggested that Patriots coach Bill Belichick may be buying into the hype on the rookie first-round pick:

But what is this, really? One practice turning the tide of the entire battle between Newton and Jones?

Try these Mac Jones stats on for size, courtesy of The Athletic‘s Jeff Howe:

Eighteen straight completions. Only five misses on 40 total throws. Against a Giants starting unit that can make a case as a top-10 NFL defense.

Is Mac Jones really about to be the next Tom Brady?

Is Mac Jones really about to be the next Tom Brady?
Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) drops back to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
  • Mac Jones stats (2020, Alabama): 311-of-402 passing attempts (FBS-record 77.4% completion rate), 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, 4 interceptions
  • Mac Jones stats (2021 New England Patriots preseason): 26-of-38 passing attempts (68.4%), 233 yards

This would be classic Patriots.

Similar great fortune has fallen on the Green Bay Packers’ transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. The Indianapolis Colts went from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, with only one awful season in between. Had Luck not retired so early two years ago, the Colts would be a perennial contender.

Who will be the best QB from the 2021 NFL Draft?

Anyway, the point here is that New England got spoiled by Tom Brady and his six Super Bowl victories. He left Foxborough after two decades, and promptly hoisted yet another Lombardi Trophy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

How abruptly everyone rushed to declare Brady the winner of his divorce from Belichick. How overly critical everyone was of Newton, surrounded with one of the worst set of pass-catchers in the NFL after signing late in the offseason, adapting to a complex, entirely new offensive system designed for TB12.

The Hoodie might be getting a kick out of all this. Jones is much more in Brady’s mold in terms of processing ability, accuracy and poise in the pocket. No stranger to the big stage at Alabama, it’s clear that the NFL hasn’t been overwhelming whatsoever for Jones thus far.

Jones was the 15th overall pick, but the fifth QB drafted. It seems like he’s using that, in part, to fuel his rise from unknown before last college football season to a potential instant NFL starter.

Belichick had one down year. Everyone was ready to write the Patriots off. It’s all over! Apparently not. They went hard after upgrades at the skill positions this offseason, and it appears to be paying dividends.

When New England traded Super Bowl LIII hero Sony Michel, a 2018 first-round pick, to the Los Angeles Rams, that seemed like it’d be the biggest Pats-related news of Wednesday. Then, Jones put in an absolute show.

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