By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Ninkovich insists that his opinion does not come from a place of hate. But the former Patriots linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champ believes the Patriots are built more for Mac Jones than Cam Newton.READ MORE: Rays Hit 3 HRs, Beat The Red Sox 7-3 To Tighten AL East Race
Speaking on ESPN in response to Newton’s message about “haters,” Ninkovich said that the Patriots’ roster fits the style of the rookie QB out of Alabama more than it does Newton’s.
“No I do not [believe Newton will have a big season], and this doesn’t come from hate. I’m looking at this perspective of there’s two types of offenses that the Patriots would have to run,” Ninkovich said on “Get Up” this week. “One completely different offense with Cam Newton, and the other with Mac Jones. The team is built right now to have a typical pro style quarterback under center, run the football, 22 personnel [two running backs, two tight ends], 23 personnel [two running backs, three tight ends]. They’re gonna be better suited with Mac Jones under center.”
That reasoning may be a bit of a head-scratcher. If the Patriots indeed plan to go heavy with their formations, it might make more sense to have a quarterback who’s also a threat as a runner on the field instead of a one-dimensional QB like Jones.
Newton had a bad passing season last year, undoubtedly. But he rushed for for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns on 137 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per rush. It was the second-highest rushing touchdown total of his career, and he also caught a pair of passes on some trick plays, the second of which went for a 19-yard touchdown.READ MORE: Red Sox Trade Michael Chavis For Reliever Austin Davis; Also Acquire Pitcher Hansel Robles
Jones rushed for 14 yards and one touchdown last year for Alabama.
If Damien Harris and If the Patriots have two running backs in the backfield — and they’ve got five legitimate options back there — then forcing defenses to remain keyed in on the quarterback as another potential runner should help open more holes for whichever player ends up carrying the football.
And with two or three tight ends on the field — as Ninkovich mentioned — it may help Newton’s passing game tremendously, after he spent the entirety of the 2020 season without NFL-caliber tight ends on the field.
On ESPN, Ninkovich seemed to indicate that Newton will be used almost in a Taysom Hill type of role for the Patriots.
“Cam’s still gonna have a big role in this offense,” Ninkovich said. “You’re going to see him in the red zone, he’s going to have a big impact on this team. But he’s not going to be the big breakout guy. It’s gonna be Mac Jones.”MORE NEWS: Chaim Bloom, Red Sox Make Minor Improvement But Pass Up Chance To Really Go For It At Deadline
That situation obviously has not been determined just yet. A QB battle of sorts seems to be brewing for training camp and the preseason, and if Jones proves himself to be the better option, then Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels won’t hesitate to lean on the rookie. While Newton does not appear to be the long-term quarterback of the Patriots, he still may prove to be the best option for 2021.