In an interview this past weekend, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels reiterated that QB Cam Newton is the starter for now heading into the season. Newton, 32, completed eight of nine passes for 103 yards and one touchdown in the Patriots’ preseason victory over the Eagles on Thursday.
“I know this is going to sound silly, but I haven’t really worried about it,” Mcdaniels said, via WEEI Sports Radio. “I think that decision from (HC) 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.”
McDaniels continued, adding that consistency and protecting the football is paramount relative to what the team is looking for from the quarterback position.
“My focus really is on our offense improving and specific to your question, that position in general, I have said it before, like that position to me is obviously extremely valuable to our team. We need to be able to play consistently well. We need to communicate well. We need to make good decisions. We need to throw the ball accurately. We need to protect the football and not give it away. To me, I look at those guys in the same light in regards to what we’re trying to accomplish. Ultimately, when any decision is made based on who is going to play more or less on our team, those decisions will be made when the time is right and we’re going to go forward and try and play the best we can.”
McDaniels concluded, stating that the team is happy with their quarterback room and both Newton and first-round QB Mac Jones are improving and doing everything the team is asking of them.
“I am very pleased with the effort that we’re putting in at the quarterback position, the improvements we’re making and the way that we’re attempting to run the offense. Everything isn’t perfect. We still have a long way to go and things we can work on and improve and make better, but I think the desire to do it, the way we want to do it to the standard that we’re trying to hold them to I think is right where we want it to be.”
- NFL Media’s Michael Giardi reports members of the Patriots organization are upset with the situation that led to Newton missing practice this week, and the door is open for Jones to win the starting job.
- The Athletic’s Jeff Howe also reports there are varying levels of organizational frustration over Newton’s absence.
- Patriots HC Bill Belichick didn’t say whether he will use a player’s vaccination status to determine roster decisions. (Andrew Callahan)
Patriots first-round QB Mac Jones isn’t focused on winning the starting job out of camp over veteran QB Cam Newton. Instead, the young signal-caller is focused on getting progressively better, and being ready to fill any role the team asks of him.
“I think that’s more of a future thing,” Jones said, via NESN. “Today, I’m trying to just learn the plays that I messed up at practice. That’s really my focus. Fix those and then move on to the next day. I think I’m starting to get a good grasp of it. I’m just here to be a good teammate and help the quarterback room.
“When I’m in there, I need to execute the plays and I can continue to get better at that — and I will. So it’s just a learning experience, and I’m ready to play any role that I need to play.”
Jones said that Newton’s been a great mentor to him, along with fellow veteran QB Brian Hoyer.
“Obviously, Cam has been in the NFL for a long time,” Jones said. “He’s done a great job mentoring me and helping me and just providing that leadership aspect in meetings or even in personal time. He’s been awesome.”
Patriots OLB Chase Winovich had a slow start to camp, as a groin injury relegated him to the PUP list for a few weeks. It only increased some speculation about Winovich’s role on the team after his snaps were limited to certain situations in 2020 and the team made a number of additions to his position this offseason. However, Winovich has tried to tune that out.
“I missed [playing]. It feels like forever when you’re going through certain processes,” Winovich said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “It’s a weird thing out in the world at large; as fans, and media, you only have access to so much information. Obviously, I can’t give much commentary on it, which ‘it is what it is.’ A lot of it is, as they say, noise. I just kept focusing on doing the things I had to do to prepare and let my actions speak for themselves.”
Patriots RB Coach Ivan Fears is enamored with second-year RB J.J. Taylor. Taylor, 23, rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the Patriots preseason win over the Eagles.
“Doesn’t he (look impressive)?” Fears said, via NESN. “He really does. Again, he’s a guy that was a hell of a runner in college, and his strong suit is as a runner. He’s a hell of a runner, got great vision, great feet, balance. The kid is a tough kid for a little guy, but he plays big. He plays big, so you love the stuff like that, and he’s got to compete, and he’s doing a great job of competing.”
Fears added that Taylor is “still trying to take advantage of the other aspects of the game” such as receiving and pass-blocking. Taylor has had a solid preseason thus far with the receiving aspect of his game, hauling in all eight of his targets for 49 yards.
“That’s the big stumbling block for most of these guys,” Fears said. “They’ve got to take advantage of the entire game. They’re not just in there to carry the ball. There’s other things that happen, and we’ve got to step up to the plate on all the aspects of the game, all of it. From blocking to running to catching to route-running, there’s a (expletive) load, plus, they have to be smart enough to handle a change-of-pace at the line of scrimmage.”
The Patriots have had a history of versatile running backs who had the ability to impact the game on both the ground and through the air. Fears hopes that Taylor could eventually play a similar role for the team in the future.
“I think that’s the thing that J.J.’s got to answer for us,” Fears said. “That’s what he’s trying to give us. He’s trying to give us that look, whether he can do it or not. And I wouldn’t say he’s miles away. I definitely wouldn’t say that. I would say he’s closer than further away. He’s done a hell of a job trying to close that gap. He’s worked his butt off. That first preseason game, he got into some situations which he needed to show us he could handle.”