Mac Jones won his quarterback competition with Cam Newton not just on the football field, but reportedly in the study room, as well.
The rookie first-round pick is in line to start Week 1 for the Patriots following Newton’s release from New England last week. Jones was excellent during training camp practices and preseason games, and demonstrated an ability to learn the Patriots’ offensive playbook more quickly than most young players.
In fact, Jones is so well-versed in the playbook that he was teaching some of it to Newton, according to former New England edge rusher Rob Ninkovich.
“I got some inside sources now, and I won’t say names,” Ninkovich recently said during his “The Dan and Ninko Show” podcast. “But, from what I gained (from) sources inside the actual building, from everything that I understand now, Mac was basically helping Cam learn the playbook.
“So, imagine that. … Because Mac was having less mental errors in having a better understanding of the offense. We didn’t see Cam run any two-minute (offense), we didn’t see him run any no-huddle.”
Now, some might say something like, “Well, what’s it matter? Brian Hoyer is teaching the playbook to Mac Jones, yaknow.”
And that’s fair. However, there is a big difference between a career backup on the back-nine effectively coaching his rookie teammate, and an aging veteran with tenuous job security turning to a first-rounder for help despite having been exposed to the playbook for over a year.
Ultimately, many factors led to Jones beating out Newton for the starting quarterback job, including his high football IQ and accelerated mastery of Josh McDaniels’s offense.