Patriots' Bill Belichick: No Timetable for Picking Between Cam Newton, Mac Jones

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 26, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks to Mac Jones #10 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half of the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 19, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 35-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFL regular season may be drawing close, but Bill Belichick isn't committing to a starting quarterback just yet. 

"I don't have a timetable on that," he told reporters when asked if a point would come when it would be easier to prepare for the team's season opener on Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins with a definitive starter named. "I can't tell you."

"Yeah, I’m not sure exactly how that will go," he added. 

The Patriots have been tight-lipped about the pecking order at quarterback. While Cam Newton has started the first two preseason games, the competition at the position remains open. No surprises there after the Patriots used a first-round pick to select Mac Jones this offseason. 

"I know this is going to sound silly, but I haven't really worried about it," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters on Sunday. "I think that decision from Bill [Belichick] will be made when the time is right to make it. Cam certainly is the starter now, and he has done a good job. He has gone in there, he played well the other night. He's practiced well. But, I know those guys are really competing hard and we're giving them an opportunity to compete and play a lot of football."

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

Mac Jones on Cam Newton's return: "It was good. He came in this morning and everyone was happy to see him. Glad to have him back. Even today, there was something that popped up - he did something with the 'mike' - and I can kind of learn from what he did. We talked it through."

Newton, 32, missed five days this week under the NFL's COVID-19 protocols after what Belichick categorized as a "misunderstanding," per ESPN's Mike Reiss

"On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area," the team said in a statement. "He received daily COVID tests, which were all negative. Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility."

There's no doubt that Jones is the starter of the future, and he's played well throughout the preseason. That, combined with the fact that Newton had his struggles last year (2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 65.8 completion percentage, 592 rushing yards, 12 rushing scores)—and that Jones got three days of practices with the first-team offense—left some to wonder if the rookie would seize the starting gig. 

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

Joining <a href="https://twitter.com/GetUpESPN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GetUpESPN</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/ryansmithtv?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ryansmithtv</a> (filling in for <a href="https://twitter.com/Espngreeny?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Espngreeny</a>) to recap Mac Jones' practice Wednesday ... and taking the temperature of the New England region on the QB situation. <a href="https://t.co/cZtGzsH9oB">pic.twitter.com/cZtGzsH9oB</a>

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

Mac Jones giving Bill Belichick something to think about today as it relates to starting QB. Jones took a TON of reps, and he was on his game, capping things off with successful 2-minute long TD drive. He got a low-5 from Belichick after that one.

AnitaMarks @AnitaMarks

🚨 <a href="https://twitter.com/MacJones_10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MacJones_10</a> 🚨<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MacJones?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MacJones</a> put on a clinic vs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Giants?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Giants</a> starting def today<br>(21 of 23 &amp; 2 TD in LIVE)<br>those there text me...<br>"Thought it was Brees- sliced them like a juicy prime rib -it was scary" <br>"Felt like we witnessed a moment"<a href="https://twitter.com/DougESPN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DougESPN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeFortenbaugh?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoeFortenbaugh</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Tyler_Fulghum?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Tyler_Fulghum</a>

Ryan Hannable @RyanHannable

Adam Schefter via <a href="https://twitter.com/GreshKeefe?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GreshKeefe</a> on Mac Jones' chances of being starter: "When Cam is out of the building for 5 days, it just gives Mac the chance to go out there and impress them, which he has all summer."<br><br>Adds: "We know his time is coming, we just don't know when that will be."

For now, the Patriots aren't naming a starter. It's possible that Belichick will stick with the familiarity of Newton, allowing Jones the chance to further learn and develop from the bench. 

But it wouldn't be shocking if Jones eventually claims the starting gig at some point this season. Perhaps even by Week 1.