Lofty expectations are being placed on the New England Patriots following their free agent spending spree and strong showing in the draft, and rightly so.
However, as promising as the Pats’ revamped roster looks on paper, their success will likely hinge on the play of quarterback Cam Newton, who Bill Belichick claims is way ahead of where he was at this point last season in terms of his understanding of the playbook.
The pressure will be on Newton to perform not only after he was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL last year (not that it was entirely his fault), but especially after New England drafted Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft.
It remains to be seen when the Patriots will hand the keys of the offense to Jones, or whether Newton feels like his job security is being threatened.
What can’t be speculated? Whether the former MVP is wholeheartedly on board with the team’s selection of Jones.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Newton was adamant in declaring Jones the “best player available” at the time, making it known he supports the pick with full conviction.
Cam Newton strongly endorsed the Patriots’ selection of Mac Jones.
On top of implying the Patriots got a steal with Jones in the middle of Round 1, Newton acknowledged the pick “didn’t make me feel anything” — in terms of being offended that they drafted another quarterback — because Jones was the right pick for the “long haul.”
These comments really shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Newton was exceptional in front of the microphone last season amid controversy. While this topic qualifies more as a touchy subject than a controversial one, the 31-year-old star is continuing to lead by example. What more could the Patriots ask for from a player who doesn’t have a long term future with the franchise?
As if that wasn’t enough, Newton also gloated about Jones’ demeanor, noting the Alabama product is “holding himself accountable” amid the pressure that comes with being a first-round pick (let alone a quarterback) for the most successful organization in the NFL.
It would be easy to pin these quarterbacks against each other given that both are after the same thing, but it’s clear they’re both rooting for the other to be successful.
That means Patriots fans should do the same, even if this story ultimately ends with Newton being supplanted by Jones in the latter stages of the 2021 season.