Preseason Game 2 - Pats vs Eagles Aug. 19, Thurs. 7:30PM

chevss454

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This may be the game that allows BB to decide on the starting QB. The Eagles D is good. This should be a good test for our offense.

View: https://twitter.com/EliotShorrParks/status/1427065012326178826

View: https://twitter.com/EliotShorrParks/status/1427062485832638468



PHILADELPHIA — Mac Jones will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2022.

This week should determine whether Jones can become the starter in 2021.

The first-round pick has closed the gap on Cam Newton almost daily throughout training camp, and his preseason debut against Washington was a continuation of his rapid development. Now with two joint practices and a preseason game with the Eagles, this will be the most important stretch of the Patriots’ quarterback competition.

If Jones’ upward trajectory continues in this competitive atmosphere against the Eagles’ starting defense — first Monday and Tuesday in practice then during Thursday’s exhibition — Bill Belichick has to seriously consider increasing the rookie’s No. 1 reps, and there’s a looming opportunity for that to happen.

After the Philly trip, the Patriots will likely practice two or three times in Foxboro before hosting the Giants for two more joint practices. Those in-house workouts, without fans in attendance, would represent the most ideal time to prep Jones for a greater workload. He’d then get a tune-up in the workouts with the Giants and the possibility of starting the preseason finale at the Meadowlands, two weeks before the regular-season opener against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. That’s an appropriate amount of time to get the rookie ready.

These are all hypotheticals, of course. Such a scenario would require Jones to thrive, Newton to plateau and Belichick to make a roster-rattling decision. But everything that’s happened over the past 12 days suggests it’s possible.

Since Jones hit a speed bump Aug. 3 in the first padded practice, completing just 1 of 6 passes with an interception in 11-on-11s, he’s been lights out. He has gone 16-of-24 (two drops) with no interceptions in 11-on-11s against the Patriots’ starting defense over the last four competitive practices, and he was 57-of-77 (74.0 percent) with one interception overall in team drills. He then went 13-of-19 for 87 yards against Washington.

Over the same stretch, Newton was 15-of-23 (one drop) with one interception in 11-on-11s against the starting defense, and he was 35-of-56 (62.5 percent) with four interceptions overall. It’s also only fair to note Newton doesn’t have the same running opportunities in practice that he’d create in games.

With Jones, time and again this summer, he’s shown off his quick release, plus-accuracy and veteran-like footwork and pocket presence. He has improved his pre-snap command and blitz recognition, and Jones does a nice job of cycling through his reads when the first couple are covered. And after throwing two interceptions over the final pair of minicamp practices in June, Jones has displayed markedly better ball security in training camp with just three picks over 186 throws in team drills.

Newton, meanwhile, has been up and down. He has had long stretches in practice when he has been in command of the offense, especially in 11-on-11s, but still has sporadic issues with accuracy, which happened Thursday when the Patriots’ second series ended due to a screen pass that was rocketed behind James White.

By the numbers — an imperfect measurement, sure, but the only tangible form of comparison — Newton’s training camp performance has dipped from a year ago. His completion percentage and adjusted accuracy rate have declined, and he has thrown more interceptions (seven in 10 competitive practices).

In totality, Newton has been steadier than Jones since the start of camp, but Jones shook off the rookie moments and his ascension over the past week and a half has been undeniable. He has validated the Patriots’ first-round investment, and there’s no reason to think he won’t enter the 2022 offseason as the starter. As long as Jones doesn’t go face-first into the rookie wall this month, his time could come sooner than that.

When Belichick reiterated July 31 that Newton was the starter, he also said every veteran would have to “reestablish their positions,” and it would be a “hard decision” to determine the winner of the quarterback competition, noting the focus on consistency over an extended stretch. That starter label was more about the present than the future.

If Belichick strictly viewed Jones as a backup without an avenue to win the No. 1 job, he wouldn’t have gotten a series with the starters against Washington, and the practice reps against the starting defense wouldn’t be so closely divided. Newton again led off every team period Sunday during the high-speed walkthrough, but Jones got an even split of reps with the starting offense.

This week presents a new opportunity for Jones to take extensive reps against an unfamiliar defense in a road setting. In prior joint practices, Belichick has worked with the opposing coaching staff to control certain situations as a way to test his own team, so he’ll have some level of coordination for the Eagles defense to challenge both Newton and Jones.

How Jones responds will set the stage for the rest of the month. If he struggles more than expected in the joint practices and the game, there might not be enough time for him to catch Newton upon their return to Foxboro. And though it’s conceivable there could be a midseason change if Newton struggles, that would be a drastic step because of the way practices are handled in the regular season, with the starting quarterback in game-prep mode and the backup running the scout team. There’s no more even distribution of practice reps by that point.

So if Jones thrives this week, especially if Newton remains streaky, this could signify a change in the way Belichick and Josh McDaniels handle the quarterbacks for the rest of the summer. Jones has put himself in this position with his recent surge in performance.

View: https://twitter.com/EliotShorrParks/status/1426928451894841345
 
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Hawg73

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It's a pretty good point Howe makes about why this might be a better time for Jones to win the starting job than in-season.

I've been a little surprised at how many snaps Mac has been given in practice and wonder whether Bill is giving him his chance now
because once he decides something "is what it is" he usually sticks with it.

I'm pretty cranked to see how it pans out.
 
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chevss454

chevss454

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It's a pretty good point Howe makes about why this might be a better time for Jones to win the starting job than in-season.

I've been a little surprised at how many snaps Mac has been given in practice and wonder whether Bill is giving him his chance now
because once he decides something "is what it is" he usually sticks with it.

I'm pretty cranked to see how it pans out.

BB wants to know, too, hence the fast-tracking of Jones.
Interesting game coming up Thursday with lots riding on the outcome, esp. with the QB position.
 

ParanoidPatriot

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How will BB treat this game. There are now 3 games vs 4 in previous years.
Will he play the starters a full 2 quarters, as he mostly did in the past?
 
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