The Patriots are hosting a quarterback competition for the second consecutive offseason and, thus far, nothing has been resolved. Take Cam Newton’s word.
When asked before Thursday’s Patriots-Eagles preseason game if coach Bill Belichick had told him who would start Week 1, Newton was shocked.
“You know the answer to that question” Newton told reporters through a smile. “They’re all sitting here asking me silly questions. I don’t know what you want me to say. You know he didn’t say that. “
However, soon Belichick will have to decide. After all, there is only one preseason game left.
But is there enough separation between Newton and Mac Jones to declare a winner at this point? This is where things stand in New England’s quarterback battle after Week 2’s 35-0 preseason victory over Philadelphia.
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Breaking Cam Newton in Patriots vs. Eagles
Newton’s performance against the Eagles was far better than his debut against the Washington soccer team. He played three series Thursday night and led the team in two touchdown series.
Of course, the first marker came at shortstop thanks to a fumble by the Eagles. But in the other two series, Newton gave the Patriots scoring opportunities.
Newton’s second push was strong. He helped move the Patriots 56 yards in eight plays and set up a field goal attempt that Quinn Nordin missed. Newton made a good shot at Kendrick Bourne on the drive and he looked very comfortable in the pocket.
The Eagles weren’t playing their starters on the defensive line, so that’s part of the reason Newton wasn’t under a lot of pressure. Still, he made the most of his opportunities and was able to read the field well thanks to the extra time in his pocket. That’s how he found Jakobi Meyers on his third and final drive of the night for a touchdown.
Newton finished completing 8 of 9 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He did not register a hasty attempt. The veteran showed something fans didn’t see of him often last year: the willingness to throw the ball downfield.
Cam Newton completed 3 passes of at least 10 passing yards today in New England’s second drive.
Newton only completed 3 passes of more than 10 passing yards on a single drive twice in all of 2020, both against Seattle in Week 2. pic.twitter.com/Wh3dToo3d2
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 20, 2021
MORE: Will Cam Newton start with the Patriots in Week 1?
Breaking Mac Jones in Patriots vs. Eagles
Newton’s solid performance put pressure on Jones. The rookie entered the game for the Patriots’ fourth drive, which began at his 9. He quickly led the team on a 91-yard touchdown drive.
Jones had to pitch from his end zone at third and 13 early in the series to move the chains. He found N’Keal Harry in the middle for a 19-yard gain.
From there, the Patriots marched across the field for a 17-play, nine-minute drive.
However, Jones had a few times on the show. He nearly threw an interception on his second play while staring at his catcher and linebacker TJ Edwards smashed the ball.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Jones nearly completed a 55-yard TD for Harry. He threw the ball at the target, but Harry couldn’t roll it up.
Absolute cent from Mac Jones and a good route on N’Keal Harry’s Go Ball. I hope it’s okay, but you have to catch it. Two weeks in a row now Mac has dropped one into the bucket down the left sideline. pic.twitter.com/Xy29MBnx2h
– Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) August 20, 2021
Although it wasn’t a touchdown, the throw showed Jones’ precision. He hit his receivers in stride and put them in position to make plays all night long. He also took shots into narrow windows, like this completion for Gunner Olszewski.
Jones did everything right Thursday. He threw with rhythm, climbed into the pocket to avoid pressure and showed good speed. He finished with 13 of 19 passes for 146 yards. He also had a 3-yard run.
While Jones didn’t throw a touchdown pass, Harry and Devin Asiasi dropped two potential TDs. And three of Jones’s four series ended in touchdowns anyway.
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Which quarterback has the advantage in the Patriots’ QB battle?
Things are even through two preseason games. Both quarterbacks passed the visual test against the Eagles and their statistical performances are similar.
Jones has more passing yards but has also played more. Newton has a touchdown pass while Jones hasn’t thrown one. That said, Jones has led multiple scoring units, so TD numbers don’t tell the whole story.
If things continue like this, Belichick will face a difficult decision. Neither quarterback has turned away in the competition, and Belichick, as expected, did not tip his hand after Thursday’s game.
But if all else is equal, Belichick will probably stick with Newton. Why? Because that has been Belichick’s plan from the beginning.
Even after the team selected Jones 15th overall in April, Belichick said, “Cam is our quarterback.” He doubled that stance during training camp.
“Cam is our starting quarterback, I think I said that.” Belichick reiterated on July 31.
Could you change your mind? Sure, but after starting both preseason games, Newton should be seen as Belichick’s preferred choice as a Week 1 starter.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.