Cam Newton Is Cut and Mac Jones Is Named the Patriots’ Week 1 Starter Two Days After Bill Belichick Said There Were Still ‘a lot of decisions’ to Be Made
The Patriots won the Super Bowl last year, but their offseason has been marred by drama. They lost cornerback Malcolm Butler to the New Orleans Saints, which led to the Patriots signing former Panthers cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Then, they let star tight end Rob Gronkowski walk in free agency, which led to the Patriots signing former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. Then, they traded star wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams, which left Ryan Allen as the only healthy tight end on the roster.
Cam Newton’s season was over before it started. Not only did he suffer a shoulder injury in Week 1 of the preseason, but he also tore his ACL and MCL in Week 2. Now, he’s lost his starting job to a rookie. How often does that happen? Bill Belichick has never been afraid to cut and replace players and coaches and he’s already lost his starting quarterback and his top receiver. Who will be the next to go?
In the New England Patriots’ preseason finale, Cam Newton began as quarterback and went 2-for-5 for 10 yards with an interception in two series. When questioned about Newton’s starting quarterback competition with Alabama freshman Mac Jones after the game, Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick was (surprisingly) non-committal. Belichick fired Newton two days later and replaced him with Jones as the team’s Week 1 starter.
Throughout the preseason, Newton was considered the front-runner for the job. That’s probably why the former NFL MVP got fewer repetitions than Jones. That wasn’t the case, as it turned out.
Mac Jones was selected by Bill Belichick to compete with Cam Newton for the starting quarterback position with the Patriots.
The New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick speaks with Mac Jones during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles | Getty Images/Mitchell Leff
The Hoodie returned to his roots, advising BFF Nick Saban on how to choose Jones with the 15th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Jones earned accolades for sticking with the school and not transferring while waiting his time behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa during his one year as a starter for Saban at Alabama. Jones seized the opportunity when it presented itself. With a 4,500-yard, 41-touchdown season in 2020, the redshirt junior placed himself in Heisman consideration. Jones threw just four interceptions while completing 77.4% of his attempts.
Because of his pocket-passer style, accuracy, and ties to Belichick, the 22-year-old quarterback earned inevitable Tom Brady parallels heading into the selection.
Last year, when Brady departed to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Newton was brought in as a flier. The former Panthers quarterback started 15 games in his 10th season in the NFL, throwing for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and ten interceptions. Newton has injured his throwing shoulder twice in Carolina, and he has never regained his MVP form from 2015.
Newton has been released, and Jones will start the first game for New England.
Jones came in in relief against the New York Giants in the Patriots’ preseason finale — the same game in which Newton passed for 10 total yards — and completed 10 of 14 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. “No, we still have a lot of choices to make,” Belichick said when asked whether he was ready to announce a starting quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season, according to ESPN.
Jones is set to start less than 48 hours after the 69-year-old coach made some fast decisions. Newton is no longer on the squad.
The former Auburn standout and 2011 No. 1 overall selection had a lackluster preseason. Newton had a “misunderstanding” about COVID procedures, in addition to being outplayed by Jones in the stat column. The week leading up to the Pats’ game against the Giants, he missed the most of practice.
Jones, on the other hand, has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league in the preseason, according to PFF, and the best rookie quarterback. He passed the ball 52 times in the preseason (12th most in the league) for 389 total yards (eighth-most in the preseason). He didn’t make any mistakes. Jones was balling when Newton was missing practice.
Jones, according to Belichick, offers the Patriots the greatest opportunity to win in 2021.
Losing games is the only thing Belichick despises more than wearing a suit. He obviously thinks that by removing Newton and committing to Jones, New England will have the greatest chance of winning. Jones will now be scrutinized by Brady, although at news conferences, he seems to be extremely Belichickian (h/t NFL.com):
“Today is all that counts, and tomorrow I’ll concentrate on tomorrow. But, in my opinion, the past is the past, and we’re moving on to a new season.”
Prior to Cam Newton’s release, Mac Jones discussed the New England Patriots’ quarterback competition.
At Alabama, Jones established himself as a leader. Clearly, the youngster has also won over the Hoodie. Things are about to become serious. On Sept. 12, Jones will face the Miami Dolphins and his old Alabama teammate Tagovailoa.
Pro-Football-Reference provided all NFL statistics, whereas Sports-Reference provided collegiate statistics.
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