A year ago, Tom Brady burned the Patriots and went south for the winter. All seemed lost in Foxborough. Now, it seems Belichick may have struck gold again in Mac Jones.
Hell hath no fury like a Tom Brady scorned, and the Patriots learned that the hard way in 2020. Pats fans had to watch their former savior move to a warmer climate with all his friends and win yet another ring, all while they watched their coach somehow look less happy than normal leading a 7-9 squad. That’s like watching your ex-wife move to Miami with two of your best friends and get engaged to a movie star, while you stay back in Vermont and start dating someone who “doesn’t believe” in deodorant. Not ideal.
Perhaps the only saving grace from this past season was that fans weren’t allowed at the stadium, so Pats fans didn’t have to endure a live performance of Cam Newton throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, and putting the ball on the ground more often than the Red Sox. They could just change the channel.
So you could imagine the shock and horror in the Northeast region when Belichick decided to re-sign Newton this offseason. Surely his performance didn’t earn him another year, right?
After the busiest offseason of Belichick’s career, signing three receiving targets in WR Nelson Agholor and TE’s Hunter Henry and Johnu Smith, and defensive stalwarts Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung returning after opting out of 2020, the Patriots seem poised for a bounce-back season in 2021. The big question being: Is Cam Newton good enough?
Given a defense that is expected to be elite, a budding superstar at running back, and the greatest coach in the history of the sport, the bar for how Cam has to play to get the Patriots into the playoffs is not high. Derek Carr, Brock Osweiler and whatever Washington did last year at the position have made the playoffs. Tim Tebow (criminally underrated), Mark Sanchez and Kirk Cousins have won playoff games. Cam Newton doesn’t have to be his 2015 MVP self to help this team win. But now it seems, he won’t be helping them at all.
Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, quarterback speculation was running at an all-time high. One of the bigger questions of the night was would the Patriots trade up to get one? The answer was no. And that was the most frustrating part.
Belichick stayed pat at 15 and the reigning national champion quarterback from the premiere college football team fell into his lap. After months of speculation that the 49ers would take him at 3, Mac Jones slipped all the way down to Belichick. And the other 31 fan bases had to watch as the next Tom Brady walked across the stage and donned a Patriots hat for the first time.
Jones spent the majority of his career at Alabama in the shadow of Tua Tagovailoa, but when he got his opportunity he made the most of it. He completed over 77% of his passes, threw for over 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. All while leading Alabama to an undefeated national championship. That’s a pretty solid capstone project.
Mac Jones is perhaps the perfect Tom Brady replacement. Both are excellent pocket passers who don’t do too much scrambling, so their injury risk is low. Both extremely intelligent and came from legendary college coaches (Lloyd Carr at Michigan with Brady, Nick Saban at Alabama with Jones), and both rock dad bods, highlighting their trustworthiness.
With Belichick and that defense, all Jones will have to do is manage the game and make 3-5 great throws a game. With Josh McDaniels drawing up plays that shouldn’t be an issue. Some will argue that he had an endless supply of All-American talent to throw to in Tuscaloosa, which is valid; both Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith were top-10 picks in this year’s draft (both ahead of Jones), with the latter winning the Heisman Trophy. But while he was throwing to arguably better receivers than he’ll have in New England, he was also going up against top-notch competition. In the 2021 College Football Playoff, he led Alabama to a 31-14 win over Notre Dame in the semi-finals, and then orchestrated a thorough ass-kicking of Ohio State in the title game, beating them 52-24. Not to mention playing in the SEC against the top defenses in the country, Jones proved he can beat elite talent in college.
The New England reign of terror in the NFL mercifully came to an end when Tom Brady, as all old white people do, moved to Florida and signed with Tampa Bay. The dynasty was finally dead, after many false times of death (2011, 2014, 2017, etc…). But now that they have the franchise quarterback to pair with a legendary coach hell-bent on proving he deserves the lions-share of the credit, the Patriots could very well be on their way back to the top of the mountain, and the question now must be asked: Over/Under 5.5 Super Bowls for Mac Jones?