By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton really didn’t do much in the Patriots’ preseason opener a week ago. As a result, a lot of folks went ahead and crowned Mac Jones the Patriots’ starting quarterback — if not now, then sooner than later.
In preseason game number two, Newton made sure to make it known that he has no desire to just keep the seat warm, and he has absolutely no intentions of giving up his job.
The veteran quarterback was simply dynamite in the first quarter against the Eagles. He completed eight of his nine passes, with the only incompletion being a drop by James White when the running back took a hit. Those eight completions went for 103 yards, including completions of 23 yards, 18 yards, and a touchdown pass for 28 yards.
The stats, obviously, look quite good. But Newton looked even better than they show.
He calmly and casually navigated the pocket, avoiding rushers and stepping up to avoid trouble before delivering strikes down the field. He took his time when the Eagles’ pass rush wasn’t getting home. And he looked in total control of the offense.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 19, 2021
Newton should have been at the helm for three scoring drives in the opening quarter, but Quinn Nordin missed a chip shot field goal attempt from 36 yards after the aforementioned White drop, which would not have gone for a first down even if White had held on.
The fact that the offense was so productive without the need for Newton to run the ball at all was perhaps the brightest spot of the performance. That stood out on one play in particular, when he escaped a would-be sack and ran toward the line of scrimmage before deciding to hit White for a gain of eight yards instead of running the ball himself.
The QB didn’t have to do much of anything on the first drive, as the Patriots took over at the Philadelphia 9-yard line, following a strip-sack by Matthew Judon and a recovery by Jalen Mills. Two handoffs to Damien Harris resulted in six quick points.
On the second drive, Newton was 4-for-5 for 56 yards, as the offense drove 56 yards on eight plays.
On the third drive, Newton was 4-for-4 for 47 yards and a touchdown.
.@jkbmyrs5 goes 28 yards for the TD!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 20, 2021
It was, of course, a preseason performance. And getting overly hyped about a preseason performance by a 32-year-old former league MVP might not be normal behavior.
But the push from Jones does appear to be real. And the questions and discussions in the media have certainly been real. Newton’s been around long enough to know how the NFL works, and he knows that he’s likely on his last chance to prove he still belongs as an NFL starter.
And right now, preseason games are all he has. In this one, he absolutely made the most of his opportunity.