The New England Patriots selected Mac Jones with the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That distinction comes with some unfair expectations.
We should all keep that in mind as Jones works his way through training camp and preseason during his rookie campaign. On Wednesday, the last day of the team’s mandatory mini-camp, Jones had arguably his worst day of practice.
He struggled with accuracy and decision making against an active and talented defense. CLNS’ Evan Lazar described Jones as “noticeably frustrated” after some mistakes during this session that was open to the media.
For the first time this spring, we saw noticeable frustration from the first-round pick on Wednesday. Jones completed just three of his final ten passes with an interception to Dee Virgin, but it was his mental struggles throughout that stood out. The Pats began implementing motion into their offensive structure on Wednesday. However, Jones had some issues setting the protection and making post-snap sight adjustments to his receivers’ routes right from the jump in walkthroughs. Towards the end of practice, Jones had a long conversation with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and center David Andrews about the protection breakdowns.
Should Patriots fans be worried about their rookie quarterback?
In a recent media session, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t sound concerned with Jones’ growing pains. When asked what he had observed of the rookie quarterback, Belichick said:
Well, I think everybody is coming along. Again, there’s a lot of teaching, a lot of instruction for any player that hasn’t been in this system, and there’s plenty for the ones that have, but they’re all working at it. Mac’s working at it just like everybody else and there’s a lot for all these guys to learn and absorb and it just keeps piling up each day but as a group, they’ve worked hard and we’re making progress. So, we’re certainly not anywhere near where we need to be, but we’re further ahead than we were yesterday or the day before or last week and so, things are moving in the right direction.
Jones is coming along as most logical observers expected, but his stumbles might be enlarged by those who were expecting him to leapfrog Cam Newton in the race to be the Patriots’ starting quarterback.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton Was Spectacular on Wednesday
In a huge bounce-back performance, Newton was excellent on the final day of mini-camp. He threw the ball accurately, made strong and quick decisions, and proved himself to be the best quarterback on the field on a crucial day of workouts.
After struggling with his accuracy on Tuesday, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran spoke highly of Newton’s performance, and acknowledged the veteran quarterback needed this result after some struggles.
Newton is a pro and a competitor who has been working tirelessly to improve. We’d all be wise not to bet against him.
Barring an Injury, Newton Will Likely Be the Starter in 2021
Jones will get better, that seems to be a given. However, Newton has seemingly improved from 2020, and will likely get stronger through training camp and preseason.
With the experience advantage Newton has over Jones and Jarrett Stidham, and the leadership qualities he possesses, it is difficult to imagine him being overtaken, unless he is injured.
As it stands, if Newton continues to show the form he did on Wednesday, and the Patriots can get Stephon Gilmore into camp, we might be looking at a contending team in Foxboro again.
Jones’ time will come, but it won’t be now.
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- Bill Belichick Opens Up About Stephon Gilmore’s Contract Situation