From the moment the New England Patriots took Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick, fans started the countdown for when he’ll be named the starting quarterback.
However, the Patriots re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year contract this offseason to presumably be the starter and head coach Bill Belichick (seemingly without hesitating) confirmed that to be the case in his post-draft press conference.
It’s widely believed the Patriots will redshirt Jones as a rookie, meaning he’ll spend most of the season holding a clipboard and donning a headset on the sidelines while Newton runs the new-look offense to the best of his ability.
However, we can’t help but wonder if that’s best for Jones’ development. After all, how much could he possibly learn from Newton given their contrasting styles?
ESPN insider Mike Reiss posed this question in his latest column and pointed out that the coaching staff will have their work cut out for them to navigate through this situation.
Could Cam Newton and Mac Jones’ contrasting styles hinder the rookie quarterback’s development?
“He (Belichick) has declared Newton the team’s quarterback (for now) selection of Jones at No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL draft represents a commitment to the type of system the Patriots want to run (e.g. traditional passing game, rhythm thrower, etc.) — and that isn’t necessarily Newton’s forte,” Reiss wrote.
“How Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels strike a balance, and put both Newton and Jones in the best position to have the greatest success in the short- and long-term, will be compelling to watch.”
If we had to speculate on a potential solution, we’d say just keep the passing offense as is — assuming no drastic changes have been made to it since Newton replaced Tom Brady last season — and just sprinkle in the occasional quarterback sweep and power out of the shotgun.
If Jones, who clearly lacks the requisite athleticism to have run plays designed for him, focuses solely on the passing aspect of the offense, his development shouldn’t be impeded. It obviously isn’t ideal that Newton is a dual-threat quarterback, but the Patriots were aware of that when they drafted the former Alabama star.
Jones would likely be running the previous version of the offense under Brady. As long as only minor tweaks were made to cater to Newton’s ability to run last campaign, the 22-year-old quarterback shouldn’t find it overly difficult to adjust.
After all, before Jones was appointed the starter at Alabama, he played behind the likes of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. While it goes without saying neither player is as adept as Newton in the running game, both are relatively athletic and have the ability to take off with their legs.
We’re not so sure the same can be said for Jones … at least not yet.
If Jones was playing behind a quarterback who has similar intangibles (like a Drew Brees or Matt Ryan), that would be the perfect situation. Though Jones developing under Newton isn’t the best-case scenario, it should encourage fans that the rookie has been in this position before.