Cam deserves chance to shine

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Aug. 1—FOXBOROUGH — I get asked this multiple times, every day, about the recent opening of Patriots training camp: "How did Mac Jones look?"

I get it. The Alabama dominance. The drop back, pocket passer. The confidence.

My stock answer is this: "He looked good. He looked comfortable. He looks smaller than I thought. But he's got a little mojo ... Oh yeah, one other thing: They aren't wearing pads and nobody is tackling him or even threatening, too. It's not real football just yet."

As for questions about Cam Newton?

Crickets.

My answer, if asked, would be this: "He looks awkward, like a linebacker playing quarterback, as he did last year. He looks really good sometimes. He looks bad sometimes. But because it's not real football, he hasn't taken off and run. And one other thing, the dude always is smiling."

It doesn't matter. Really. Not in August of 2021.

The New England Patriots starting quarterback is going to be Newton, barring some unforeseen circumstances, as in an injury or he throws six interceptions in the first two preseason games whereas Jones looks like The Next Justin Herbert.

Newton is the one.

Newton will be the Patriots quarterback until he proves he isn't worthy.

And you know what? That's a good thing.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick all but said it on Saturday, "Cam Newton is our starting quarterback," though he did also say, like every position, it will be evaluated for consistency and production.

Newton may not look the part, particularly after watching Tom Brady for most of two decades, but there are other ways of winning football games, including a quarterback's legs.

Newton, it must be noted, is very respected by his teammates. He just is. It's a different respect and really relationship than Brady had with his former teammates.

Last year was not a great barometer in evaluating Newton or really any new player to an organization, especially one as complex as the Patriots, particularly on offense.

The pandemic killed the "coaching" players up, before and during the season, which is allegedly a forte of business in Foxborough.

Do you remember the weapons Newton had at his disposal? Neither do I.

The 2020 Patriots tight ends combined for 18 receptions and 250 yards. With Julian Edelman injured most of the season, the best Patriots wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers, had 59 receptions for 729 yards, but no touchdowns.

That won't be an issue in 2021. There are weapons, including a tight end duo that compares to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (the early years), a running game, an accomplished offensive line and maybe a top five defense (my prediction) as a supporting cast.

Basically, Newton has the tools to succeed.

The best part is that Newton doesn't have to be an MVP for the Patriots to be a threat.

Could he lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl? I very much doubt it.

While the talent has been upgraded, several levels, it takes time to gel, maybe even two seasons.

Of course, Belichick has worked this kind of magic before (Exhibit A, 2001 Patriots). A little luck mixed in with some unforeseen circumstances (a 24-year-old Brady who had no fear) and anything, I guess, is possible.

Whatever the case, Newton deserves this opportunity and Jones has time, as Brady did in 2000, to learn.

Belichick is in win-now mode. Maybe Brady's success in Tampa has sped the process. And Newton, on Aug. 1, 2021, is the best guy for the job.

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