While a confluence of circumstances outside of his control made it tough for him to perform at the highest level, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton took a step backward last year, and his regressing prompted Bill Belichick to select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
While Newton was a respectable 4-7 for 49 yards in New England’s preseason opener while attempting mostly shorter throws, Jones was one of the best Patriots players, completing 13 of his 19 passes in a win over the Washington Football Team.
Even with Jones bearing down on him, Newton has taken on the role of a veteran leader.
Newton, 32, spent a good chunk of his postgame press conference praising the 22-year-old Jones, claiming that his preparation before the game was admirable.
Newton claimed that he and Jones are “going to be here for each other” as the organization tries to make the transition.
Also, keep your focus on “what I admire about him.” Knowing Jones is bearing down on his job, Newton still took the time to place the rookie on a pedestal, acknowledging that he can learn from the Alabama kid’s poise under pressure, too. That’s some fine veteran leadership, Cam.
Patriots: Cam Newton is mentoring Mac Jones.
Newton was an effective runner last year, and the lack of wide receiver talent was palpable, but throwing more interceptions than touchdowns is never a good look. Jones will eventually be given the reins, and with Newton’s contract situation giving the Patriots a ton of flexibility, the clock is ticking.
Jones is coming from a wide-open offense at Alabama that saw him chucking the ball from clean pockets to wide-open 5-star receivers. The fact that he was able to go through his progressions so efficiently is a testament to how quickly he has developed. Perhaps having a veteran like Cam in his ear isn’t the worst thing in the world for Jones.
Newton might not have a championship on his resume, but with an MVP, multiple individual records, and more than enough money to his name, his NFL journey has been kind to him.
Rather than defiantly deny that his time as a starter is coming to an end, Cam is doing his part to ensure that New England continues to succeed with Jones under center.
Cam’s not dumb. He knows what the situation is. Even if he performs exceptionally in a bounce-back year, 2022 will likely begin with Jones under center. Rather than come across as a bitter veteran, Newton is going everything he can to make sure Jones feels at home in the NFL.
And that’s admirable in and of itself.