BOSTON (CBS) — The 2021 season is a whole lot more interesting for the New England Patriots now that the team has handed the reins over to rookie quarterback Mac Jones. The 22-year-old is being thrown right into the fire, taking over at the most important position on the football field.
Bill Belichick’s decision to move on from Cam Newton before giving the veteran another crack at the New England offense was stunning to most when it went down Tuesday morning. But Jones did nothing but impress the Patriots with his stellar play in training camp and the preseason, and the team feels confident that turning the franchise over to the 15th overall pick is the right move.
Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher of CBS’ The NFL Today joined WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche to chat about the big change with the Patriots, and both believe that Jones will thrive in his starting role. Most of that confidence comes from New England’s stacked roster around him, and the tutelage that Jones will receive from both Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
“We’ve all seen that with Bill Belichick, he’s not afraid to play the best player regardless of their experience. Then you look at Josh McDaniels and his history at developing quarterbacks. This is a veteran offense with a good offense line, a good core of running backs and they went out and got some tight ends and skill players this year,” said Cowher. “For Mac Jones, the door was open when Cam missed that time and he took the job away. Bill will let the product speak for itself on the field. It’s a veteran team and I think Mac Jones will be just fine.”
Boomer was not surprised that the Patriots cut Newton, based on everything that he had heard about Jones throughout camp.
“Everything we read out of New England or everyone you talk to in New England raves about his accuracy, raves about how he’s able to absorb all the information he’s given and his ability to be a leader,” said Boomer. “It may not be the best offensive team they’ve had, but along the line they’ll be fine. They’ll be able to run the ball with a plethora of backs back there. The passing game may not be top notch to start the year, but I think they could win 10 games.”
Cowher doesn’t think Jones will be too overwhelmed when he starts competing against NFL defenses, because Belichick and McDaniels will keep things as simple as possible for the rookie — at least until he’s ready to take everything on himself.
“I think they’ll let Mac come along as he feels comfortable and not throw too much at him too fast. That’s the thing with having a veteran coaching staff and veteran football team,” he said. “Mac doesn’t have to do anything more than he feels comfortable doing.”
“They can support a young quarterback, much like Seattle did with Russell Wilson. Think in those terms,” said Esiason. “He’s accurate and the team will be able to support him. … It’s clear and away Mac Jones’ job and his team, and with the coaching staff they have all the ingredients to support a young quarterback’s growth. It’s why I’m so bullish that they’ll be a playoff team now.”
The AFC East still belongs to the Bills until proven otherwise, and if Josh Allen is even better than he was in 2020, then Buffalo could be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. But Esiason believes the Patriots are the second-best team in the division, and will be back in the postseason as a Wild Card team.
“As long as Mac Jones doesn’t go and turn the football over and fumble and get overwhelmed, I think they’ll be fine,” said Boomer. “The offense will move the ball effortlessly through a short passing game. Mac likes to throw the ball downfield too, but Josh will do a great job managing the game and getting cheap and easy completions early on, and then it will be about running the football and playing defense. That is the way you win in the NFL.”
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