“Stunning,” Zolak, a former Patriots QB who now works as the team’s radio color commentator, said on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak and Bertrand.” “Absolutely stunning.”
Newton seemed to have the edge in the Patriots’ QB battle, working extensively with the first-team offense and starting all three of New England’s preseason games. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also has praised Newton on countless occasions since the three-time Pro Bowl selection joined the organization before the 2020 season.
“I’m stunned. I am absolutely stunned,” Zolak said Tuesday. “Nothing, nothing had any indication that this potentially could have happened today on cutdown day. I’m sorry, whatever your thoughts are on him as a player, he didn’t play himself off this team.”
The Patriots now hand the keys to Jones, whom New England selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old has looked good in the preseason, and Belichick and Co. apparently have seen enough from the Alabama product to believe that success will carry over to the regular season despite Jones’ lack of NFL experience.
“What a whopper,” Zolak said. “(Belichick) hoodwinked — he got us all. (Newton) was first in every rep. He was first in every drill. He was first in every game. I said, there’s no way an NFL team starts a starting quarterback three straight preseason games and then says, ‘We’re gonna go with the other guy.’ “
Well, Belichick certainly zigged when most expected him to zag.