Mac Jones Impresses Again in Final Audition
After a highly competitive summer between Cam Newton and Mac Jones for the starting job, the New England Patriots concluded their preseason campaign on Sunday night with a 22-20 win against the New York Giants.
Headed into the game, Newton had been out of practice for a few days this past week due to COVID-19 protocols. In his opportunity to command the first team offense in joint practices against the Giants, Mac Jones did not disappoint.
During Wednesday's practice, Jones took all of the first team reps against the Giants defense and completed 35 passes on 40 attempts including 18-straight completions to close the session. Jones' efforts even landed him an ultra-rare high five from head coach Bill Belichick following practice.
As has been the case the previous two preseason games, Newton started the game and played the entire first quarter. In his limited action, Newton went 2-of-5 for 10 yards and an interception to Giants linebacker Blake Martinez, who made a great play on a solid throw by Newton.
Jones entered in the second quarter and immediately started airing it out. On just the third play of his first drive, he completed a 21-yard rope to Kristian Wilkerson into a tight window.
Jones got the offense into field goal range and the Patriots entered halftime trailing 7-6 after Daniel Jones took the Giants offense down the field for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
On his first drive of the second half, Jones took the Patriots offense down the field for a 75-yard scoring drive in just six plays that ended with him throwing his first career NFL touchdown pass on a 17-yard strike to Isaiah Zuber.
The Giants quickly gave the ball back to the Patriots offense at the 50 yard line after a three and out followed by a solid J.J. Taylor punt return.
With perhaps his most impressive throw on the night, Jones found tight end Devin Asiasi for a thirty yard gain on a ball perfectly placed behind the defender's ear where only his receiver could get it.
The drive finished in a second consecutive touchdown for the Patriots after Rhamondre Stevenson ran it in from 10 yards out. After being sacked multiple times on the following drive, Jones' night ended at the conclusion of the third quarter.
Jones finished the game with a final stat line of 10-of-14 with 156 yards and a touchdown. While he has looked impressive all summer and preseason, the fact that Cam Newton still started on Sunday after being out from most of practice the week leading up to the game was very telling.
When asked after the game if he had made a decision on who will start week one against the Miami Dolphins, Belichick replied "No, we still have a lot of decisions to make."
While Bill Belichick is certainly not one to tip his hand, I believe it is unlikely that Jones has done enough in the eyes of his head coach to take over the starting job right away. But if this preseason proved one thing, Mac Jones is the future of the New England Patriots and Cam Newton will without a doubt be on a short leash to start the season.
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