The New England Patriots have officially released team captain and former MVP Cam Newton from the roster, electing rookie Mac Jones to take over as the starting quarterback.

Throughout the course of the preseason, Coach Bill Belichick had refused to definitively assert which quarterback would start the regular-season opener on September 12. After the preseason finale against the New York Giants, he stoically stated, “No, we still have a lot of decisions to make.”

Jones had a solid preseason, completing 36 of 52 passes for 389 yards, with a touchdown and no picks. His teammates have lauded Jones’ ability to lead the offense in empty formations while displaying a Tom Brady-like ability to control the tempo and make alterations at the line of scrimmage.

Said veteran running back James White, “He’s getting a lot of reps now. He’s taking control of the huddle and just trying to do the best he can. He’s just making sure everybody is on the same page, so we can go out there and execute not just for one period, but throughout the entire practice.”

Jones has made the most of his opportunity after Newton missed three practices last due to a “misunderstanding” of COVID-19 protocol. Naturally, questions have been raised over whether Newton’s vaccination status was somehow implicated in his release, though Belichick has strongly pushed back against those claims.

Jones, who led Alabama to victory in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship, has maintained a humble attitude over the course of the last month. “I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to play, and I can improve on everything. I think just learning from [Brian] Hoyer, Cam, Jarett [Stidham], and listening to [offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] and his coaching, there’s a lot of work to do. I think I’ve made progress. But honestly, the only thing that matters is today.”

The decision to release Newton was surely one of professional courtesy. The Patriots are evidently ready to bet on Jones and place him in a position to develop as a long-term leader. However, the Patriots no longer have the luxury of having deep talent at the QB position. While Hoyer is a capable backup, Pats fans can wave their playoff hopes goodbye if Jones somehow gets injured.

New England needs a new franchise quarterback, and though Brady’s 20-year reign will be tough to beat, the organization’s confidence in Jones is certainly something to take note of.

 

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