The Patriots never had a quarterback battle in their first year trying to replace Tom Brady. With no preseason and reduced training camp, Cam Newton easily emerged as a starter over Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.
But in 2021, Patriots fans will be able to enjoy their first quarterback competition in decades.
Newton is trying to win the starting job over first-round rookie Mac Jones. The 15th overall pick was the fifth quarterback off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, rich in quarterbacks, and he played in Alabama with Nick Saban, who is friends with Belichick.
Belichick hasn’t said much about quarterback competition. When he did, the veteran manager spoke well of both players.
“Cam is getting better every day. Mac gets better every day. They push each other, ”Belichick said Aug. 5. by WEEI. “Competition makes us all better, so it’s been healthy and we’ll see how it goes.”
How is the competition going? Newton or Jones in the lead? Here’s everything you need to know about the Patriots’ quarterback battle and what Belichick has said about Newton and Jones.
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What Bill Belichick Has Said About Cam Newton
Newton endured a disappointing season in his first year with the Patriots, but that didn’t stop New England from re-signing him to a one-year deal. Newton’s contract could be worth as much as $ 14 million, but it comes with much less money guaranteed than that ($ 3.5 million).
Since then, Belichick has been firmly committed to the beginning of Newton. When the Patriots selected Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Belichick said: “Cam is our quarterback.” At the start of training camp on July 31, he reiterated that message.
“Cam is our starting quarterback, I think I said that.” Belichick said.
That momentum has been sustained through two preseason games. Belichick made an appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” after the Patriots’ 35-0 win over the Eagles in preseason Week 2 during which he said “someone,” in this case, Jones, would have to overtake Newton to take the starting job.
“The fact that Cam started last year, and he’s here, someone would have to play better than him,” Belichick said. “We won’t just take a job and say it’s okay, this is wrapped as a gift for someone.”
That hasn’t happened yet, so Newton is presumably in the lead for the starting job.
That said, Newton had to miss five days due to a misunderstanding surrounding the league’s protocols for COVID testing conducted outside of NFL facilities. Did Belichick’s view of Newton change because of his brush with COVID protocols? The coach largely avoided questions about Newton during his media availability.
“I have nothing to add to the statement. It is what it is,” Belichick said. via ESPN. “We have given them the information and that is all I have.”
Still, it seems like Newton’s mistake won’t have much of an impact on him, unless of course Jones takes advantage of his absence.
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What Bill Belichick has said about Mac Jones
After passing a first-round pick on Jones, Belichick explained what the Patriots liked about Jones and why they selected him so early.
“We look forward to working with him. He’s a smart kid,” Belichick said. via NBC Sports Boston. “He’s been in a system that’s similar to ours. We’ve had a lot of conversations with him. I think he’ll be able to process the offense. It’s obviously going to take a long time. We’ll see how it works.” he. “
While Belichick’s praise is remarkable, so is his observation that Jones “will take a long time” to develop. That’s part of the reason he immediately made it clear that Newton was the starter even after selecting Jones.
Belichick has continued to give Jones a measured price throughout the offseason. Belichick was pleased with Jones’ efforts during the OTAs, but noted that it was still a work in progress.
“He’s working hard, he spends a lot of time on it,” Belichick said. via CBS Sports. “Certainly trying his best to do everything we’ve asked him to do and to do it the way we’ve asked him to do it, which is a great place to start. He’s earned a lot of respect for that. But he has a long way to go. We’ll see how it goes. “
So far this preseason, Jones has been good. But for the most part, Belichick has been silent about the performance of both quarterbacks after each game. That included Jones’ debut against Washington.
“We will see it in the movie and we will see,” Belichick told reporters, via NFL.com. “Some good things, many things we can improve on. Same with everyone.”
It seems that Belichick still wants to carry Jones slowly, but maybe Week 3 of the preseason could change his mind. Belichick acknowledged that Newton’s absence is an opportunity for Jones.
“Is [a big week]”Belichick said.
Can Jones seize that opportunity? You will almost certainly need it if you want to topple Newton before Week 1.
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Who started the Patriots’ first preseason game?
Newton started the Patriots’ first preseason game, as expected. He played just two drives for the Patriots and completed 4 of 7 passes for 49 yards. He held his ground, but the highlight of his night was that Chase Young exploded in a sack.
Of course, that jacket wasn’t Newton’s fault in any way, but the rest of his night was indescribable.
Meanwhile, Jones was stable on his debut. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 87 yards. He made some good shots on the night, including this one, which was well placed between a pair of Washington defenders.
Jones and Newton were about the same after the first preseason game, but as usual, Belichick declined to give a hint regarding the quarterback competition. He didn’t even mention it in his post-game press conference.
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Who started the second preseason game for the Patriots?
Once again, Newton took the field as a starter for New England. He looked great against the Eagles and delivered strong downfield pitches to his receivers.
Newton wasn’t under much pressure, as the Eagles left most of their starters on the defensive line. That allowed him more time in his pocket than he used. He waited to find wide receivers and didn’t scramble unnecessarily. That helped him keep up the pace throughout the night and hit shots like this to Jakobi Meyers.
Newton completed 8 of 9 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown during the contest. He was rock solid and threw the ball downfield far more frequently than during most of his 2020 starts.
That said, Jones nearly matched Newton’s performance. He almost threw a pick on his second pass of the game, but after that, he performed much better. He led three touchdown drives on four possessions and used to throw quality passes.
Ironically, his best moment of the day was not caught. He threw a perfect deep ball to N’Keal Harry late in the second quarter. He hit Harry on the hands, but couldn’t corner him. If he had, it would have been a 55-yard TD.
Absolute cent from Mac Jones and a good route on N’Keal Harry’s Go Ball. Hope it’s okay, but you have to catch it. Two weeks in a row now Mac has dropped one into the bucket down the left sideline. pic.twitter.com/Xy29MBnx2h
– Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) August 20, 2021
Jones finished the day with 13 of 19 passes for 146 yards. He also had a 3-yard dash. He showed great precision and good speed in his throws during the contest.
After the game, Belichick provided little information on the quarterback’s situation.
“You know, I thought all the players had a good week,” he said. “They all got better.”