It goes without saying that the New England Patriots cannot afford to be stifled by lackluster quarterback play for the second consecutive season.
The might make fans question why they decided to bring back Cam Newton on a one-year contract, but the front office and coaching staff clearly feel that extenuating circumstances, like signing late in the offseason and testing positive for COVID-19, contributed to his shortcomings.
At the same time, however, the Patriots also can’t ignore how much Newton struggled last campaign.
He finished 28th in passer rating (82.9), 24th in passing yards (2,657) 21st in yards per attempt (7.2) and 18th in completion percentage (65.2%).
With at in mind, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that New England is rumored to be interested in selecting a quarterback in the first-round of this month’s draft. As encouraging as that sounds, they probably won’t be able to do so with the No. 15 overall pick.
Whatever ends up happening, it’s reassuring to know that they understand the importance of having a viable backup behind Newton. That begs the question of what would be the Patriots’ dream scenario at quarterback in 2021?
Here’s the best-case scenario at quarterback for the Patriots next season.
In a perfect world, Newton would silence his haters on a permanent basis and remind everybody why he was named league MVP back in 2015. That isn’t to say we’re expecting him to rack up a 99.4 passer rating and 45 total touchdowns while leading the Patriots to a 15-1 record, but any signs of improvement from last year would be a welcome sight.
As far as the backup job is concerned, however, we would love to see New England move up several picks and draft Justin Fields, whose respective value has hit a snag in light of recent controversial reports that have brought his work ethic into question.
Fields could obviously be off the board within the first couple of picks, but all signs are pointing to the 49ers jumping on Alabama product Mac Jones third overall. If that happens, Fields could fall several picks, meaning the Pats wouldn’t have to give up a backbreaking haul to trade up for him.
Jones was previously pegged as the ideal draft pick for New England, but he’s of the traditional pocket passer mold that flourished once upon a time. We’re all aware of the benefits that come with deploying a mobile quarterback (the league is certainly trending in that direction) and Fields, who ran a blistering 4.44 40-yard dash at his pro day, was simply built in a lab for today’s game.
In this picture-perfect scenario, Newton would start the entirety of next season — without being benched, of course — and Fields, who has an eerily similar playing style to that of the 31-year-old, would learn under his tutelage and be ready to be thrust into the starting role as a sophomore.