The Patriots are taking the leap with rookie Mac Jones.
New England on Tuesday waived veteran quarterback Cam Newton, shocking many who figured the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player already had won the starting job.
In the fallout Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick denied speculation that Newton’s vaccination status had anything to do with the decision. In turn, Newton reportedly is fine with being a backup. For one former Patriots player, that begged the question as two why they wouldn’t keep the 32-year-old around behind Jones, just in case.
The Patriots enter the season now with Jones the only quarterback on their active roster, with Jarrett Stidham on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after back surgery and Brian Hoyer and Garrett Gilbert on the practice squad.
Former New England tight end Jermaine Wiggins thinks that could have been detrimental. Here’s what he told NBC Sports Boston on Wednesday:
I think it’s a huge mistake and it has the potential to be really ugly. The fact that you’re handing the keys to your organization to a rookie — on a team that we all expected, based on what they did in the offseason, has got to be a playoff caliber football team. Every rookie quarterback is going to deal with growing pains, is going to deal with, you know what, now I’m in the NFL, it’s no longer preseason. They’re the disguising coverages, they’re blitzing, they’re doing all types of things that I’ve never seen before. And it’s just gonna take time for Mac to see certain things. And guess what? The time that it might take might be the difference between wins and losses, and the pressure that you’re putting on this kid, on a team that is expected to make the postseason based on the players that they have in that locker room. If he comes out, he plays bad, you don’t think all eyes are gonna be on him in the media? And there might be some guys in that locker room going, well, did you make the right decision? Did we rush this kid in too early to play? That’s the only issue that I have when you’re dealing with a rookie quarterback and basically saying we have a playoff team. You don’t know how that’s gonna affect them if things tend to go wrong or if there tend to be issues with (what) most rookie quarterbacks to deal with.
It’s a fair point, looking at the odds and history of a rookie quarterback being thrown into the deep end and thriving.
Still, Jones did everything he could with the opportunity he was given after Newton missed valuable preseason reps due to a COVID-19 protocol misunderstanding.
Only one way to see how this all plays out, and that’s to wait and watch.