BOSTON (CBS) — Immediately after selecting quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the NFL Draft, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made it clear in his meeting with the media that Cam Newton is still the team’s quarterback.
“Whatever time Jarrett [Stidham] or Mac are ready to challenge and compete, then we’ll see how that goes,” Belichick said. “But right now, Mac, he’s just got a lot of learning in front of him.”
Obviously, a veteran like Newton has proven that he can play quarterback at the highest level. Jones has yet to even step onto the practice field. Such a declaration from Belichick was not entirely surprising.
Still, to fans who are eager to move on from the most disappointing Patriots season in 20 years, it might have been disappointing.
And while there’s a long way to go between now and Week 1, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said Monday that the Patriots should put the rookie under center as soon as possible.
Here’s what Orlovsky said:
I’d say Mac Jones, and it’s because it’s about third down. Number one, I think the selection of Mac Jones tells me that Josh McDaniels and the Patriots want to go back to their old school offense a little bit, the offense that they ran for obviously such a long time with Tom Brady. And I think the second thing is this football team is going to be a ground-and-pound football team. This is a top five offensive line in the NFL, and they are going to run the rock.
Now when you do that, third down becomes paramount. Third-and-5 or less is gonna be about decision-making and accuracy. And you’re going to have to continue to make those third-down throws to continue to keep the ball on the field.
And I think that’s where Mac Jones will have a distinct advantage vs. Cam Newton. I don’t believe that New England’s going into this season with multiple type of schemes offensively — one where we could use Cam as a runner, and one you’re obviously not gonna do [that] with Mac Jones.
This is gonna be a running football team, two tight ends, play-action pass, and the most important down is going to be third down to them, quarterback-wise. Mac Jones will have the advantage in that.
I think Mac Jones should be their day one starter. I think Mac Jones will be their day one starter.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) May 3, 2021
Newton was obviously a very effective rusher last year (592 yards and 12 touchdowns on 137 carries) but struggled as a passer (2,657 yards, 8 TDs, 10 INTs).
Jones excelled for Alabama last year, setting an NCAA record with a 77.4 percent completion rate while throwing 41 touchdowns and four interceptions.
How well that translates to the NFL level — and how quickly it transfers — will likely determine how long it takes him to become a starting QB for the Patriots. While it’s unknown for the time being, at least one analyst believes it can and should happen before Week 1.