New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick anticipates a tight race between Cam Newton and Mac Jones for the team's starting quarterback job.
According to Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, Belichick commented on the competition Saturday, saying: "I'm sure it will be a hard decision. But we'll see how it goes. Just let them play and try to do what we feel like's best for the team based on their performance."
While things could change during training camp and the preseason, Belichick was steadfast on the quarterback situation right now, saying, "Cam's our starting quarterback."
It comes as little surprise that Newton is in the driver's seat early in training camp since he is the incumbent starter.
The 32-year-old is a three-time Pro Bowler and was an All-Pro and won the MVP award in 2015 with the Carolina Panthers, but he struggled mightily for much of 2020, his first season with the Pats.
In 15 games, Newton went 7-8 and completed 65.8 percent of his passes for just 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Newton did thrive as a runner, though, rushing for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns, which marked his highest scoring total since his rookie year in 2011.
Life after Tom Brady was no picnic for the Patriots, who finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
It was obvious that New England needed a quarterback of the future, which is why it used its first pick on Jones.
Jones played his way into the first round with a remarkable 2020 season at Alabama during which he led the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record and the national title.
Replacing Tua Tagovailoa as the Alabama starter, Jones completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with four interceptions, netting him a third-place finish in Heisman Trophy voting.
While Jones boasts remarkable tools, his athleticism lags far behind Newton's.
Since Newton and Jones are such different players, the quarterback competition could come down to which style Belichick prefers.
Belichick won six Super Bowls with a largely stationary quarterback in Brady, so it may not be long before Jones takes the starting job even if he doesn't win it in training camp.
Jones' first big opportunity will come Aug. 12 when the Pats host the Washington Football Team in their preseason opener.