The first year of the post-Tom Brady era fell far short of expectations for the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick. Brady’s replacement, Cam Newton, didn’t arrive in Foxborough until July, and a hot start dissipated in mid-October as the offensive supporting cast broke down. The Patriots never fully recovered, posting their first losing record since 2000. This season, Newton returns as the incumbent with first-round rookie Mac Jones as his primary competition.
Latest camp news
When asked where Jones has left an impression, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the rookie is “good at getting yelled at.” Indeed, the team hasn’t even issued Jones a number for his position yet, a tactic Belichick has taken with first-year players in the past. But Jones has shown signs of improvement, nearly doubling Newton in repetitions and displaying more consistent passing for two days in a row, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Newton still has a commanding lead, but Jones might make things interesting if these trends continue.
Current DraftKings Sportsbook odds
Mac Jones to take the Patriots’ first snap in 2021 regular season: Yes (+250), No (-350)
Next preseason game: vs/at Washington
Newton doesn’t need much work during the preseason to prepare for Week 1, but Jones has yet to face off against an NFL defense other than his own. The Washington Football Team features a robust pass rush and some talented defensive backs, more than enough to challenge Jones in a meaningful way.
UPDATE: Mac Jones was solid, completing13 of 19 passes for 87 yards while Cam Newton completed 4 of 7 passes for 49 yards. Newton is likely the favorite to start, but it’s a good debut for Jones.
Pre-Week 1 preseason prediction
Despite Newton’s struggles through much of the 2020 season, the Patriots remain confident in his ability to run their offense. Barring injury, he will start Week 1 for the Patriots.
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