How much do reported doubts over Cam Newton impact his competition with Mac Jones?
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio discussed the question Tuesday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” saying reported doubts over Newton “open the door wider” for Jones to supplant him for the job as New England Patriots starting QB. Florio offered this take hours after he reported multiple Patriots players believe Newton “simply isn’t the guy he once was,” suggesting some are open to the idea Jones might be a better option under center in 2021.
“There are players on the team who know he’s not the guy that he was,” Florio said, per WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “I don’t think it takes a genius to say Cam Newton currently isn’t at a MVP level, but just the idea that guys would be coming to that conclusion and sharing it with others, I just think it opens the door wider than we would have thought for Mac Jones. Bill Belichick told reporters today it’s a clean slate at quarterback. There had been this presumption that it’s going to be Cam Newton from the get-go, maybe there is an opportunity for Mac Jones to win the job and maybe the leash on whoever wins it will be short.
“Once you go with your first-rounder, once he’s out there it is hard to bench him. One thing we know about Belichick, nothing is hard. He will do whatever he wants to do and his players are just going to deal with it because that is what you have to do if you want to be on this team.”
Patriots training camp will begin Wednesday, with Newton the presumed front-runner for the starting job and Jones seen as the QB of the future. However, Florio and other NFL observers don’t seem to believe that hierarchy is set in stone.
While Jones, whom the Patriots selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has drawn rave reviews at the outset of his pro career, Newton probably will have to fail to recover from what ailed him for much of last season in order for those reported doubts to become confirmed ones and for the Patriots to hand over the reigns to their highly touted rookie.