Selected 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones is seen as the long-term franchise cornerstone in New England. Nothing we’ve seen from him in his first offseason as a professional football player has changed that.
“The feedback I’ve gotten on Jones is that he’s what the Patriots thought they were getting when they took him 15th—which is to say he’s a heady field general, if somewhat limited physically,” Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated noted recently. “And my sense right now is that Jones has done enough in the spring to merit a real competition with Cam Newton in the summer.”
Right now, there’s no telling whether there’s going to be an open competition between Jones and Cam Newton for the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback job. However, there’s absolutely no harm in head coach Bill Belichick creating competition between the two during training camp. After all, they will get a vast majority of the first-team reps over Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, who are seemingly battling for a roster spot.
Given what we saw from Newton last season and the fact that these Patriots exhausted their highest pick on a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe, there’s an argument that suggests New England should start Mac Jones once Week 1 comes calling against the division-rival Miami Dolphins on Sept. 12. Here’s three reasons why.
New England Patriots’ timing-based offense
One of the reasons Jones to New England was bandied about a lot ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft is the type of offense coordinator Josh McDaniels runs. Dating back to the Tom Brady era, it has been known as timing-based. That’s similar to what Jones played under at Alabama. It also fits his skill-set to a T.
New England added wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne as well as tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry during NFL free agency. It did so with two things in mind. Add more skill-position talent and find players who fit their scheme. Given his plus-level accuracy, Jones fits that bill, too.
Cam Newton is not the solution for the New England Patriots
An argument can be made that Newton’s struggles last season with the Patriots was a product of him not knowing McDaniels’ offense. It makes sense given that there were no offseason activities last year due to COVID-19 and Newton’s own bout with the virus.
Even then, the former NFL MVP struggled big time in his first season with the Pats. While he did score 12 touchdowns on the ground, Newton threw just eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 starts. He averaged 177.1 passing yards per game and led the NFL’s sixth-worst scoring offense. That’s just not going to cut it.
New England Patriots are not contenders
Even after upgrading on both sides of the ball during an unusually active free-agent period, the Patriots can’t be seen as top-end contenders in the AFC. They are not even in the same league as the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.
Why does this matter? Mac Jones might not boast the most upside of the 2021 NFL Draft class, but he is more pro-ready than any quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence. There’s no reason to believe that the NFL stage will be too big for him as a rookie. Why not let him get that experience in this season and see just how much he’ll have to work on moving forward? It just makes too much sense for the New England Patriots.