Apparently nobody has any idea what’s going on with the quarterback position in New England, as different reporters at the same practices are saying different things. The Patriots took Michael McCorkle Jones with the No. 15 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, and still have incumbent Cam Newton under contract for one more season as well.
“Cam’s way ahead of where he was last year at this time. There’s no question about that,” Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick said today.
Um, yes, he is. You’re absolutely right, Bill. This time last year, Newton was still a free agent, as he was two weeks from signing with the Patriots.
Still, I digress.
Out of camp comes reports and videos like this one, which helps no one.
This video shows two throws each from Newton and Jones. Newton misses his, while Jones connects. Apparently, because one quarterback missed two throws and the other quarterback completed his, we’re to believe that Jones has the upper hand in camp. Which feels like a stretch.
Then, on the same day, at the same practice, you hear reports that say it was a “strong return to practice for Cam Newton today at Patriots minicamp.”
So, which one is it? The constant deluge of reports that seem to be made with their own biases and looking only to confirm their own preconceived thoughts makes it hard to parse any real information.
It’s time to re-address the fact that Newton contracted COVID last season, after which he simply was not the same. Before COVID, Newton was playing at a high level. He’s never been an elite passer, but his ability as a runner has always made him a dangerous weapon in the NFL. His stats before and after COVID:
In an interview on The Greg Hill Show on Boston’s WEEI back in October, after throwing for five interceptions and zero touchdowns in his first two games back, Newton said, “The energy has definitely been off for me and at times it’s not rewarding when you’re just going out there with this aura about yourself that’s not you.”
Whether I agree with the decision or not has nothing to do with how the Patriots will handle this situation — obviously Jones is the quarterback of the future in New England, and I can understand their fans wanting to see the shiny new toy on the field as soon as possible, but what if a quarterback now recovered from COVID and with a better understanding of the playbook and system (which in New England is notoriously complex), that understands NFL defenses better than an incoming rookie, gives their team a better chance to win?
Newton is getting a raw deal. His stats before COVID last season indicate that he’s capable of being an accurate, successful passer that can influence a game with arm and his legs. Obviously his future is not in New England, but I hope that he’s given the opportunity to show the league that he deserves a starting job somewhere for 2022.