ESPN: Belichick 'Bullish' on Cam Newton; Likely to Start Until Mac Jones 'Undeniable'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2021

FILE - New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to throw the ball against the Miami Dolphins during an NFL football game in Miami Gardens, Fla., in this Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, file photo. Washington’s biggest offseason need is to figure out its quarterback situation. Trade for DeShaun Watson? Sign Cam Newton? Roll with Alex Smith and Kyle Allen? Coach Ron Rivera says “nothing is off the table.” (AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)
AP Photo/Doug Murray, File

The Mac Jones era in New England reportedly may not start as soon as some assumed after the Patriots selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Appearing on Saturday's edition of SportsCenter, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is "bullish" on veteran quarterback Cam Newton despite his struggles last season.

Fowler added that Newton is the favorite to earn and keep the starting job this season until Jones' on-field work becomes "undeniable."

New England's first season without Tom Brady in 20 years wasn't a good one, and poor quarterback play was a big reason why.

There was some belief that Belichick would be able to get the most out of Newton, but the former NFL MVP instead struggled through one of the worst seasons of his career.

Playing for a team other than the Carolina Panthers for the first time in his 10-year NFL career, Newton went just 7-8 as a starter and completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The one saving grace was Newton's running ability, as he rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving the Patriots an element at quarterback that they never had during Brady's two decades under center.

While Newton was scuffling and the Patriots were going 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Jones was enjoying a historic season at Alabama.

With Jones at the helm, the Crimson Tide went undefeated and won a national championship in 2020. Jones also finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting by virtue of completing 77.4 percent of his attempts for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four picks.

Jones has already received plenty of comparisons to Brady due to a perceived lack of natural athleticism coupled with an ability to process information quickly and pick apart opponents.

If Jones is indeed as similar to Brady as many seem to believe, it wouldn't be surprising to see Belichick pivot to him quickly. 

The fact that the Patriots re-signed the 32-year-old Newton despite his poor showing last season does speak to Belichick believing in him to some degree, though, and it is likely that Jones will have to wrestle the starting job away from him given Newton's experience level.