As the New England Patriots prepare to enter the 2021 NFL Season, they will do so under the direction of a rookie quarterback. Having selected Alabama’s Mac Jones with the 15th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, expectations immediately began to surround the 22-year-old. While it was clear that Jones would be the centerpiece of New England’s future, the length of his journey toward that future was still a matter of conjecture. Might Jones be the immediate solution under center, even over incumbent Cam Newton?
On Tuesday, August 31, the Patriots put an end to their quarterback competition by releasing Newton and deciding that Jones would be their starting quarterback against Miami in the season opener.
For many, this came as quite the surprise. However, for Jones, it was simply business as usual.
During an appearance on WEEI’s Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday, the Pats starting quarterback addressed the manner in which he found out his 2021 fate, and whether it was surprising to him:
“Not really, like I've said…I prepare to be the starter.” Jones said of his being taken aback by New England’s decision. “I think I [found out] with the team meeting," he said. "Obviously, there’s a lot of guys that they have to get rid of, and it is a tough day for everybody.”
Still, as hard as it might have been to see several of his teammates depart Foxboro, life goes on. It is now up to Mac Jones to lead the Patriots offense in 2021.
"It is a great opportunity and it’s something I have always wanted to do — be an NFL starting quarterback. But like I said, it doesn’t really mean much. The label is the label, but you’ve got to go out and produce.”
With Jones having been secured as the starter, it meant an end to Cam Newton’s time in New England. However, the Pats new quarterback will always be grateful to his teammate for his assistance and his support this summer.
“He was a really good mentor to me and I know we’ll stay in touch. Ever since I came here he knew that I was here to help him and he was here to help me. I never felt like we were butting heads,” Jones said of Newton. “Cam is a great guy and a great player; hopefully he lands somewhere and gets a chance. It was nice to learn from him and I hope to keep learning from Brian [Hoyer] and the guys in the quarterback room. Everyone is in it together, it’s not just a one-man show. I’ll keep learning from whoever I can learn from and be a sponge.”
With the Miami Dolphins headed to New England on Sunday, Jones knows that the time for action has arrived. While he has looked both confident and comfortable as the man under center in the Pats offense during the preseason, regular season football is a new experience, and a greater challenge. In true Patriot fashion, however, Jones is taking each moment as it comes, making the most of every opportunity to improve.
“Every day I come in, I have the chance to get a lot of reps, so nothing really changes. Just trying to be a good teammate. Trying to learn the plays every day and fix what I messed up on, listen to Josh [McDaniels] and all the guys in the quarterbacks room, you just take their advice like I always have since I have been here. Like I said, nothing really changes. It’s exciting.”
Jones will make his NFL regular season debut on Sunday, September 12 at 4:25 pm ET as the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in the opening game of the 2021 NFL season for both teams.