But then came an absence due to COVID-protocol and Mac Jones was able to get some serious reps with the first-team offense.
What followed was Sunday’s preseason finale between the Patriots and New York Giants.
Newton appeared in limited action, going 2/5 for 10 yards and an interception.
Jones got a much longer look and finished 10/14 for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Obviously, Jones had more time on the field to look better in the first place.
Does that mean he jumped Newton on the depth chart?
"No. We still have a lot of decisions to make." – Bill Belichick when asked if he had made a decision on the starting QB yet. #Patriots
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) August 30, 2021
No one knows at this point based on what Bill Belichick said following the game.
Could It Be A Bluff?
Belichick could easily be bluffing so the Miami Dolphins have to prepare for both Newton and Jones in their Week 1 matchup.
Both Patriots quarterbacks offer different skill sets, so preparing for both would be a challenge.
Belichick is a veteran coach and one of the best to ever hold a job on the sidelines in NFL history.
He has to have a plan in place, but one he is just taking time to reveal.
A likely scenario right now seems to be letting Newton start the year on a short leash.
We all know Jones was a first-round pick, which means he was not brought in to be a career backup.
But Newton is still the veteran and did nothing in the preseason to warrant him heading to the bench.
Starting with the veteran is ideal because if a change must be made, there is nothing to lose by switching to the young guy.
If it is the other way around, the season can get off to a rocky start where Newton must then come in and be perfect to save the day.
Not Overreacting To Preseason Play
Jones did not get his first touchdown pass of the preseason until the third and final game.
Mac Jones gets his first preseason TD pass 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 30, 2021
So let’s not pretend like he was lighting the world on fire throughout the preseason.
Overreactions are easy for fans and the media to hold onto, however, Belichick is not likely to fall victim to such a thing.
What fans, and the media, do not see is how Jones is doing compared to Newton in all phases of practice including meetings and everything that goes on behind the scenes in the team facility.
If the rookie is excelling in those phases and the team is anointing him as a leader, then the choice is easy.
If Newton is doing the same, the veteran should get the nod.
This may just all be mind games from the legendary coach, so time will tell what he has been truly thinking.