The New England Patriots beat the Washington Football Team on Thursday night 22-13 in the preseason opener for both teams. One of the most exciting things about training camp has been the quarterback battle between Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones. Bill Belichick has repeatedly said that Newton, the former NFL MVP, is the starter. However, just how long he remains the starter will be the question. Even after the preseason opener, that question is still on everyone’s mind. Let’s take a look at the cases for both quarterbacks.
Newton is getting ready to begin his 11th season in the NFL. His accomplishments on the gridiron speak for themselves. He won a Heisman Trophy at Auburn and also led the Tigers to a National Championship in 2010. He was then taken with the number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011 and is a three-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2013, and 2015.) He was also named an All-Pro in 2015 when he was named NFL MVP. That season ultimately ended with a defeat in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos.
Newton signed with the Pats as a free agent last off-season and had an up and down 2020 season. Considering that he signed late and did not have a regular training camp due to the pandemic, or any pre-season games, he did have a solid start to the season. He led the Pats to an opening season win over the Miami Dolphins and then played well in a Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. Newton then came down with Covid-19 and missed the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite only missing the Chiefs game, Newton struggled and did not look like he did the first two games of the season. He finished 2020 with 2657 yards passing with eight touchdowns and ten interceptions while rushing for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Cam was great running the ball but struggled in the passing game. That was due to a young group of wide receivers and lack of production from the tight end position. That of course, will not be a problem this season as the Pats spent big money in free agency and were able to bring in Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry. Cam should be able to make some plays with those new additions as well as Jakobi Meyers.
Like Newton, Jones is from an SEC school and won a National Championship. Jones led the Alabama Crimson Tide to the title and became a record-setting quarterback along the way. He became the starter his junior season when Tua Tagovaiola suffered a severe hip injury and played in the season’s final four games. Jones only started one full season at Alabama but put up huge numbers. He was 311 out of 402 for 4500 yards and finished with 41 touchdown passes.
Jones was at his best in the 2021 College Football Playoffs. In the Rose Bowl (semi-final) he was 25 of 30 for 297 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Notre Dame. As good as he was in that game, he was even better in the National Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Jones was 36 of 45 for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns and outshined Justin Fields.
Jones parlayed his success at Alabama and was selected by the Pats with the 15th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Jones was the first quarterback selected in the first round by the Pats since they selected Drew Bledsoe first overall in the 1993 draft. The Pats have been raving about Jones since rookie mini-camp and he has shown flashes that made him such a high draft pick in training camp.
Pats vs Washington Football Team
Newton got the start in the preseason opener against the Washington Football Team and played the first two series. He completed 4 of his 7 passes for 49 yards. Cam was not bad but he wasn’t that good either and of course, everyone was eager to see what Jones could do. Jones played a total of five series and completed 13 out of 19 passes for 87 yards. He looked confident behind center and made some short and easy passes. He took a couple of shots downfield and just missed a touchdown pass to Kristian Wilkerson that should have been caught. He played well and of course played more than Cam. This quarterback battle will continue and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
So Who Starts Week One
Bill Belichick has stated repeatedly that Newton is the starter. Yes, Mac Jones played more than him on Thursday, but the starting quarterback usually only plays a series or two in the opener. Jones played well and Newton didn’t do much in his time on the field. I have said all along that no matter how Jones performs in training camp and the preseason, Cam Newton will be the starting quarterback come week one. Even after Jones playing well against the Football Team, I am still going with Newton being under center and starting week one against the Dolphins.
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