One of the more compelling quarterback storylines thus far in 2021 has been the back and forth in New England between veteran Cam Newton, who would be starting his second second under center, and rookie Mac Jones, who has gotten nothing but praise from most NFL insiders this summer.
Head coach Bill Belichick has yet to make a final decision about the starter, but Jones’ latest outing has him clearly in the mix come September 12th against the Miami Dolphins.
“We still have a lot of decisions to make,” Belichick said after Sunday night’s 22-20 win over the New York Giants in the preseason finale.
Fellow quarterback Brian Hoyer could have easily thrown Jones under the bus but instead went in the opposite direction and gave the rookie nothing but credit and praise.
“I definitely think that he has taken every opportunity and taken advantage of it,” Hoyer said on WEEI on Monday.
“That’s the one thing I would say: Not many rookie quarterbacks have ever gotten the reps and the opportunity that he has, and he has embraced it full-on, head-on. He goes out there every day and does the best that he can and has earned the respect of his teammates, which I think is huge, especially being a young guy with a team with a lot of veteran guys who have played here.
“He has earned that respect by his preparation and his play. That’s really the only way you can do it, is when you step into that huddle and those guys know you know what to do, how to do it, and go out and execute. He’s done a great job of that and will continue to do a great job.
“Look, as we all say, there’s always a long way to go. We’re just at the end of training camp. We aren’t into the regular season yet, so it is always a work in progress, and you want to keep building, building and building. And I would say for him, he’s done a good job of that.”
Jones, the 15th overall pick in the draft, was also the fifth quarterback off the board, which is no surprise considering the friendship between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Belichick.
Jones played 107 snaps in the preseason, but until it’s official count on Newton to be the first quarterback under center against Miami.
Whatever happens, Jones won’t sit for long. The Patriots used a first-round choice on him, and he has looked the part of a franchise quarterback.
“Cam’s getting better every day. Mac is getting better every day. They are pushing each other,” Belichick said.