After he lit up the New York Giants in a twin follow Wednesday, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones got here to the sideline, and as he was catching his breath, coach Invoice Belichick came to visit and congratulated him for what he’d simply carried out.
That snapshot suggests Belichick has been very happy with Jones and that the New England Patriots are about to anoint their rookie first-round decide as their starter.
And if that doesn’t fairly do it, then digesting what Jones did on the sector moments earlier than would possibly as a result of by all accounts from reporters on scene — here and here and here — Jones was masterful.
Masterful, on this case, is outlined within the space of 35 of 45, together with 18 consecutive completions in opposition to the Giants’ first-team protection at one level. Oh, sure, Jones threw a pair or three touchdowns — together with one in a two-minute drill that you just’ll quickly learn is an enormous deal to Belichick.
So it seems like this competitors is over as a result of Mac Jones threw a knockout punch in a single follow.
Besides it’s not over.
Not fairly but.
Cam Newton will get an opportunity to reply on Thursday. He’s earned that in his decade within the NFL, together with these 15 begins with the Patriots final 12 months.
So when he returns to follow, which he’s scheduled to do Thursday after missing the last five days because of the NFL’s whack COVID protocols, he’ll get his probability on the Giants’ protection and a good shot to earn Belichick’s discover as effectively.
This might be essentially the most significant follow for Newton in a really very long time.
As a result of proper now Newton has the texture of a latter-day Wally Pipp (google it, whippersnappers), and he wants to reply to ensure Jones isn’t the subsequent Lou Gehrig.
There will probably be a whole lot of eyes on what Newton does subsequent as a result of it’s the Patriots and far of the NFL east of the Mississippi is watching — largely as a result of a number of groups east of the Mississippi hate the Patriots and wish to beat their butts.
So I reached out to a few of these NFL of us who’ve been monitoring this Patriots quarterback competitors, and I requested them what’s going to resolve the factor.
These are a few of my notes from these conversations:
Everybody will go proper to preseason video games to determine who ought to be the starter. That’s a nasty thought. It’s not merely about that.
The Patriots are in a novel place in that almost all the things you’ve seen from Jones has been Positive. However don’t dismiss the actual fact Newton has been good, too.
It’s going to be about how each guys purchase and recall data.
The Patriots don’t wish to be held again by anybody place. They don’t wish to need to get rid of, say, 5 issues from the offense as a result of a sure man is within the lineup. If they’ve to do this for a man, he’s in all probability not going to be the starter.
It’s going to come back all the way down to the main points of what’s happening in-house.
The robust half about all that’s nobody exterior the teaching employees is aware of how that in-house stuff goes behind closed doorways.
However that’s not all.
Belichick is a stickler about situational soccer, I’m advised. So he’s going to ask himself these questions:
- Which quarterback is greatest suited to keep up a great turnover margin?
- Which quarterback is scoring touchdowns within the purple zone?
- Which is extra productive on third down?
- And which is extra productive in two-minute drives.
In brief, the choice is as a lot about discovering the most effective situational quarterback as it’s about deciding which man has the higher statistics.
Individuals on groups exterior New England perceive Jones is passing the take a look at.
However as a result of he’s a rookie, Belichick should think about different components earlier than he makes the ultimate determination about who begins the Sept. 12 opener in Foxborough, Mass., in opposition to the Miami Dolphins.
Belichick understands that after he goes with Jones — and he in all probability will in some unspecified time in the future this season — it is going to be tough to tug him out. That will create insecurity within the rookie’s thoughts that the majority coaches don’t need their younger quarterback to take care of.
The better determination is undoubtedly to go together with the veteran to start out the season after which insert the rookie if that doesn’t go effectively.
But when Belichick is satisfied Jones is the appropriate man, he’ll undoubtedly know that the opener may current an issue.
NFL folks see the Dolphins as an incomplete group. (Sorry, Dolphins followers.) However the Patriots’ quarterback goes to be staring into the tooth of Miami’s most full unit — the protection, which was prime 5 in scoring final season.
If Jones is the New England starter, it’s understood former Patriots defensive signal-caller and Dolphins coach Brian Flores goes to go after him with each blitz possible till Jones finds a approach to beat him.
That isn’t a query. It could be a baptism by blitz.
One NFL supply added this: The primary weeks of the NFL season are unpredictable. Loopy issues occur. When you could have skilled guys in there, you reduce the probabilities the craziness will beat you.
So possibly Belichick does certainly decide Mac Jones to start out. However the determination isn’t as straightforward as Jones made it appear in follow Wednesday.