Matt Cassel seems to be proceeding with cautious optimism for the Patriots’ new starting quarterback.
New England effectively named Mac Jones its starter for the 2021 season Tuesday when it released Cam Newton. Despite other potential factors that might have played a part in the QB decision, Jones simply outperformed Newton in training camp and the preseason and made it clear he gave the Patriots the best chance to win in the upcoming campaign.
Of course, it’s tough to project what New England will receive from Jones in Year 1. That can be said for any rookie, but even more so for Jones, who wasn’t a starter for multiple full seasons at the collegiate level.
As such, Cassel’s primary concern for Jones is understandable.
“I think it’s the experience factor, and while we watched him in preseason absolutely dominate, you have to take it with a grain of salt,” Cassel said Tuesday on “Early Edition,” as transcribed by NBC Boston. “He was going up against twos, threes, fours. And then when you get to that first game in this regular season against Miami, the bullets are going to be flying. Brian Flores is going to have some definite disguises for him, going to try and confuse him, so there’s a growth that’s gonna have to take place during early in this season whether it’s against the Miami Dolphins or against the Jets with Robert Salah and that defense.
“And then it gets real difficult as you get to games 3 and 4 against the Saints and the Bucs as well. You’re going to have to take the good with the bad early on. Hopefully what they can do is get him some easy completions, get him settled in whether it’s screens, whether it’s pocket movement stuff. But the best thing this offense can do for Mac Jones early on is to have that great run game that they do with that great offensive line and protect him.”
It would be unfair to expect Jones to light it up from the get-go, as virtually all first-year players encounter growing pains. But Patriots fans should be encouraged by the 22-year-old’s penchant for limiting mistakes, which reportedly endeared the 2021 first-rounder to his new coaches.