There could very well be a quarterback battle brewing in New England this season, but one former New England Patriots signal-caller thinks rookie Mac Jones has a future with the franchise.
Matt Cassel, who got his start in the NFL as Tom Brady’s backup from 2005-07 before he was thrust into the starting role after Brady’s season-ending injury in 2008, expects a lot from the No. 15 pick.
Cassel depicted just that while on the “Upon Further Review” podcast from NBC Sports Boston.
“My expectations are high for Mac Jones, but at the same time I know he has time to develop, which is nice for him because it?s a very complex system,” Cassel said, as transcribed by WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “Look, I grew up in that system. A lot goes into the terminology, the run checks, the in-game adjustments. There’s a lot of emphasis put on the quarterback to get you into the right plays. There’s going to be a steep learning curve and it’s going to be quick.”
Cassel said he thinks Jones’ time at Alabama — where he played behind Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — allowed him to develop the “resiliency” and “mental toughness” that will allow him to thrive in the Patriots’ system.
Much was made of Jones’ performance in minicamp last month. He took second team reps but generally outshined Newton, who was brought back this offseason on a one-year deal after leading the Patriots to a less-than-stellar season in 2020.
While the buzz in NFL circles tends to give Newton the starting gig out of the gate in 2021, several members of the Patriots have praised the newcomer. Even Newton himself acknowledged the decision to draft Jones was the right one.
There likely will be more clues at where the quarterback situation is headed when Patriots training camp opens in two weeks.