Debate is over: Belichick chooses Mac over Cam

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Aug. 31—The football world was rocked this morning.

Breaking news: Cam Newton was released by the New England Patriots.

The overwhelming reaction: "Wow!"

In reality, though, it shouldn't have been that big of a surprise, not after what transpired the last four months.

The Patriots drafted a quarterback, Mac Jones out of Alabama, with the 15th overall pick.

And Jones, over the last four months, got better and better and better.

His shining moment was the last week when Newton was out due to COVID-19 protocols and Jones was alone, at the top of the quarterback depth chart in two practices with the New York Giants. And he looked like a good, starting quarterback.

And Newton, despite having a full year to prepare and a new arsenal of (expensive) weapons, looked like the same, uncomfortable, low-risk, inaccurate passer he was during the difficult pandemic-laden season of 2020.

It was evident Jones was going to replace Newton at some point.

Jones while facing backup defenders in his preseason appearances over three games, led the Patriots to points on every drive. That's right ... all eight drives led to points.

While it may not have been spectacular, the offense seemed to jell much better with Jones behind center.

Newton had his chance this summer to change the narrative from a year ago, in which he didn't look good throwing the ball but he really didn't have any weapons.

That was not the case this summer. He two highly paid tight ends and two relatively high paid wide receivers added to his repertoire.

But his arm and really his awkward delivery were exactly the same. He still had trouble throwing screen passes. And, maybe worst of all, he seemingly would hold onto the ball too long.

Newton can't say he didn't get a chance. And I don't believe he will say it.

Jones, on the other hand, made the most of his opportunities. He also, like the guy who was here for two decades, Tom Brady, was putting in the time behind the scenes with film work.

The Patriots new "backup" quarterback Brian Hoyer may have let the cat out of the bag on Monday when asked about Jones progress.

"He goes out there every day and does the best that he can, and has earned the respect of his teammates, which I think is huge," Hoyer said. "Especially being a young guy on a team with a lot of veteran guys who have played here, he's earned that respect by his preparation and play."

Those comments, during a "competition," are unexpected at 1 Patriot Way.

In fact, the Jones-Brady connection is astounding in terms of body type, athleticism (really non-athleticism), competitive juices and winning track record.

There were six quarterbacks drafted before Brady, who was at No. 199th overall. There were four — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields — chosen before Jones, who was chosen 15th overall.

The Patriots went against the current when it comes to quarterbacks by selecting Jones, who doesn't fit the 2020 model of QBs, as in athlete, outside-pocket passer and, well, a runner.

Jones finds a place in the pocket and slings it.

As for Newton, he deserves kudos for doing and saying the right thing. He had zero issues with the media or, as far as we could tell, his teammates.

He simply had trouble doing what quarterbacks are supposed to do with ease: Throw the damn football.

The thought was that Belichick would eventually be replacing Newton with Jones in late September, October or November.

Belichick decided August 31st was the day.

Belichick has some skin in the game in 2021. Not only are the Patriots playing the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in early October — Game 4 — but he spent $137.5 million in guaranteed contracts for veterans.

Belichick wants to win now and forever.

And the guy he has chosen to lead the way, on the field, is Mac Jones.

Why now?

Why not now.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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