Thursday, February 22, 2024

Does Mac Jones have a shot at starting Week 1?

With Mac Jones falling right into the Patriots pocket at the fifteenth pick of the NFL Draft they seem to have found their QB of the future. But with the 2021 schedule having dropped, does Jones have any change of starting week 1?

Cam Newton struggled mightily at times in 2020 getting pulled for Jarrett Stidham along the way. But prior to his COVID-19 absence, Newton actually looked pretty good, winning two of three games and rushing for 149 yards in the first three weeks. After his COVID-19 absence he averaged just 443 yards in the remaining 11 games.

His passing also dropped off, topping 60% completion only seven times in those 11 post-covid contests compared to all three prior. Don’t get me wrong, Cam wasn’t exactly awesome those first three games but he was at least competitive, something that was seriously lacking later in the campaign.


With all the complaints about Cam Newton’s 2020 it’s understandable that the pressure is already mounting on Mac Jones. Bill Belichick doesn’t want to have his stellar reputation tarnished by a few years of poor quarterback play. But comparisons to Brady are both premature and entirely unfair on the Alabam alum.

Is Mac Jones a great prospect? Well that depends who you ask. Some say he has a week arm and doesn’t have the mobility required in the modern NFL, but that seems a little too dismissive. Jones surely doesn’t have a cannon, but then neither does Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff, or Deshaun Watson.

What Mac Jones does have is on the field production the likes of few players. In the same system, with a few less of the stars, Jones put up better numbers that Tua and won a National Championship. At Alabama Jones put up 6,120 yards, 56 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 73.8% completion percentage compared to 6,420 yards, 86 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a 69.1% completion percentage for Tua.

Remember last year Tua’s biggest was touted as his accuracy? Jones completed 4.7% more of his passes. That will sit very will in a Belichick offense. Especially one that has just added two of the best receiving tight-ends in the game in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

While the scheduling has certainly not been kind to Mac Jones, with the Patriots facing ex-Pat Brian Flores defense in week one, he is arguably the better option at QB already. However, that Flores defence will scare the life out of Jones…unless Belichick has some schemes to work around it.

Remember in 2020 the Patriots beat the Dolphins week one, and led 9-7 in the fourth quarter in week 15. So Belichick knows how to both confuse a QB and potentially make things a little easier for his own, especially given how well he knows that scheme.

But it’s when we look at Cam Newton’s performances against the Dolphins that the needle swings decisively away from Mac Jones starting week one. In week fifteen last season Newton was 17/27 for 209 yards passing while rushing 9 times for 38 yards. Week one in the Patriots win he was 15/19 for 155 yards, rushing 15 times for 75 and 2 touchdowns.

Assuming Newton comes through the pre-season, such as it is, unscathed expect him to suit up as the starter for week one but with a very short leash. A bad start to the season could well see the Mac Jones era begin before the middle of the season.

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