New England Patriots: Intense quarterback competition good for team

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 28, 2021: Mac Jones #50 watches teammate Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 28, 2021: Mac Jones #50 watches teammate Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots intense quarterback competition between presumptive veteran starter, Cam Newton, and rookie first-round pick Mac Jones is all-good for the team.

The competition will bring out the best in both of them. Both quarterbacks are highly decorated.

Newton is a former NFL MVP and has been lauded for his amazing resilience and courage in the face of devastating adversity in 2020. He deserves all the praise in the region for that.

Jones led the Alabama Crimson Tide to the National Championship in 2020. His amazing intuitive grasp of the passing game and his adaptive decision-making have been evident.

Newton’s greatest strength has always been his dual-threat as both a passer and an amazing runner from the quarterback position.

He demonstrated that last season leading the team in rushing touchdowns and touchdowns, period. No one else scored many at all. It was Newton or no one and he did all he could.

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That situation resulted in a losing season and a playoff-less January for the New England Patriots, their first in years. He’s very likely to play much better in 2021. Count on it.

He has a pre-season this year and pre-season games. He has far better offensive tools. And he is ostensibly free of the devastating effects of the coronavirus he contracted.

Meanwhile, Jones is a passing technician who quickly assimilates a situation and delivers pinpoint passes on a dime to any receiver. He’s a star in the making.

Newton was tabbed as the starter by head coach Bill Belichick early on. This likely took some pressure off both the veteran former NFL MVP and the precocious rookie.

Yet, pundits continue to say that Jones may be edging toward being the starter. He has shined in his first NFL camp. That may be accurate or not. We’ll see.

New England Patriots two top quarterbacks and why their competition is good for the team

The fact is that Cam Newton is having such a clear talent behind him will bring out the very best he has to offer if he is to indeed retain that top spot in the offense. Otherwise, he could lose it.

Veteran New England Patriot fans can recall a similar situation when the team used a highly coveted (though seldom well-used) second-round pick on a quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo was one of their best second-rounders ever.  His presence after being such a high pick and both his ability and his coveting of Tom Brady’s position brought out the best in old No. 12.

Brady was reinvigorated by the competition and rightfully so since he must have been acutely aware that Garoppolo wanted his job.

This is not to say that Jimmy was as good a quarterback as Brady. Not at all. What it says is that he was good enough that if Brady’s skills diminished he could and would take his job.

Brady was aware that if he didn’t rededicate himself to not losing the position, he may just have lost it. He did, and the rest is history. Let’s just say it was a good motivational tool.

He has since gone on to win four more Super Bowls, three in Foxborough, and the last one in Tampa, much to the chagrin of many New England Patriots fans (this one included for certain).

All this reinforces the value of a top backup quarterback who isn’t really a backup but a starter in waiting.

That’s exactly why Jones was drafted and why Newton is only on a one-year deal. Whether the transition takes place now or perhaps next year is predicated on several factors.

First, can Newton stay healthy and provide what Jones certainly can’t, an absolutely amazing ability to run the ball?

Second, will Newton again have a respectable passing completion percentage? Why not, he had a better completion percentage than Brady last season with very little receiving or tight end help.

Third, will Jones continue to master the Patriots complicated offense and begin to deliver completions at anywhere near the astounding percentage rate (77.4 percent in 2020) he had at Alabama last season?

Who knows the answers to these questions? Yet, all this is good for the team and good for the two quarterbacks.

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Competition again will bring out the best in both. And having depth at the position is an extremely valuable asset to any team.

Let the best man take the helm. It will either be the former NFL MVP who is now healthy and ready to run the offense both literally and figuratively or the laser-sharp rookie passer.

Whoever it is, he’s going to be a good one and the season will likely be as well. They play this Thursday night at Gillette against the Washington Football Team. Let the games begin.