The New England Patriots are confident they have their franchise quarterback and if the early practice reports are a sign of what’s to come, Mac Jones has a bright NFL future and will be starting sooner than expected.
Drafted with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones landed with the franchise that always seemed perfect for him. While there was some buzz about the Heisman Trophy finalist being taken No. 3 overall, New England took him in the perfect range.
But landing in New England comes with challenges. Bill Belichick made it known that Cam Newton will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2021. If stepping into the most storied franchise in NFL history wasn’t enough, everyone also recognizes Jones as the true successor to Tom Brady.
It can put a lot of pressure on a rookie quarterback, especially in his early practices with his new team. But Jones is already generating plenty of buzz for his performance from his teammates and Patriots’ beat writers.
How is Mac Jones doing in practice?
The Patriots opened their minicamp this week with Newton returning from a hand injury and Jones looking to prove himself so he can ditch the No. 50. Both quarterbacks received equal reps early in camp and the reports from those practices are strong for the former Alabama star.
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe provided details on the Patriots’ quarterback battle. Jones struggled at times, especially on the final day of the Patriots’ minicamp.
- Mac Jones stats (June 17 minicamp): 11-of-20 passes completed, one interception
- Cam Newton stats (June 17): 17-of-21 passes completed, zero interceptions
While it was a disappointing end to the three-day camp for Jones, it didn’t erase his performance in recent weeks. Howe noted that the rookie showed “obvious improvements through four weeks of organized team activities” and praised his ability to make quick reads. It’s also worth noting that Patriots’ receivers struggled with drops in the final practice with Jones throwing the ball.
- Mac Jones stats (June 15-17): 63.1% completion rate on 65 attempts, three interceptions and 73.8% adjusted accuracy
- Cam Newton stats (June 15-17): 65.5% completion rate on 58 throws, one interception and 67.6% accuracy rate.
Ultimately, Jones received strong marks from those covering the practices with the overall impression that he has a realistic shot to win the Patriots’ starting quarterback job before Week 1.
But that’s not the only praise the rookie earned. More importantly, teammates took notice of how he performed in his first minicamp.
“Mac, he’s a young guy, but you can’t really just refer to him as a young guy. You can tell he’s been at a place where’s got some coaching. I think he’s going to be special here in the future.”New England Patriots OT Trent Brown on rookie QB Mac Jones, via WEEI Boston
Newton will still enter training camp as the projected starter and it will take a lot before Belichick is ready to turn the keys over to a rookie quarterback. But Mac Jones is clearly proving that he deserves a legitimate shot to be the starter in Week 1.