What Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels Liked About Mac Jones As Patriots QB

'He puts a lot of time into it'

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Bill Belichick was tight-lipped Wednesday about his decision to release Cam Newton and elevate Mac Jones to the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback job.

But the coach did acknowledge Jones, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has come as advertised.

“First of all, he’s had a high level of production,” Belichick said in a video conference one day after the Patriots cut their roster to 53 players. “I feel like he’s been able to show an ability to do things the way we want them done at a productive level.

“He’s young. I’m sure he’ll continue to learn and grow. We’ll see where that goes. But that’s why we drafted him, and I think he?s come in and performed at a level that supports that.”

Beyond that comment on New England’s new starter, Belichick had little to share about his monumental QB decision and the departure of Newton, whose name the coach never mentioned.

On whether he considered keeping Newton as a backup: “I’m not going to go through all the different things with any player on that. We’ll just leave it the way it is, and go from there.”

On whether Jones over Newton was a difficult decision: “I don’t rank them. We make decisions and then we execute them and go on and take it from there.”

On whether Jones’ performance in the three practices Newton missed following his COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding” helped him win the job: “I don’t know.”

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was more expansive in explaining how Jones vaulted over Newton.

“He really works hard,” McDaniels said. “He puts a lot of time into it. He’s been well prepared each day to come in and do the things that we ask our guys to do. He’s learned how to operate what we’ve asked him to operate so far fairly well. And he’s improved. And he continues to make progress. He’s generally taken care of the football. And he’s given the other 10 guys on the field an opportunity to do their job effectively and produce positive plays.

“He still has a lot to learn and a long way to go in terms of where hopefully we end up going, but I really feel confident about his approach, his ability to learn, his ability to process information and really his ability to make a mistake and learn from those, too. Because that’s a never-ending process for every player. He’s a great listener, and he tries not to make the same mistake twice. Not saying that he doesn’t do that at times, but I think he’s really shown a strong aptitude at a young age to try to put those mistakes behind him and then move on and try to continue to improve as a quarterback.”

McDaniels said the battle between Jones and Newton was “very competitive.” He praised Newton, saying he hopes his relationship with the 32-year-old former NFL MVP endures.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Newton) as a player (and) a tremendous amount of respect for him as a human being, as a person,” McDaniels said. “And he knows how I feel about him. And the time that we were able to spend together, I think he did everything he could that we asked him to do to try to help us win and help us prepare this year to improve. And for that I’m very grateful and appreciative of all the things he did, all the work he put in. 

“Hopefully, you build a relationship that will last well beyond football. And I believe that’s the case here.”

The Patriots also cut third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer on Tuesday, but he’s likely to return in the coming days after New England shifts one or more players to injured reserve.

“I don’t have much left in my right shoulder,” McDaniels cracked. “There’s a lot of roster movement that takes place obviously at this time of the year, as we all know, and I would expect that that would be the case here in the next few days.”

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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