Patriots

What Josh McDaniels said about Cam Newton, Mac Jones and the Patriots’ QB situation

McDaniels said Jones "stood out" to the Patriots in the pre-draft process and added Newton has a "different" understanding of the offense heading into Year 2.

Josh McDaniels Mac Jones Patriots
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (50) speaks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during OTAs last Thursday. Steven Senne/AP
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No matter how hard you try, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels isn’t going to tip any hands about how he sees the quarterback pecking order shaping up between Cam Newton and Mac Jones.

When asked by reporters Thursday afternoon about what he’s looking for and seeing from Jones during OTAs, McDaniels pointed the focus back to the offense as a whole.

“What we’re trying to do as a staff is improve each player that we have the ability to work with,” he said.

How about Newton’s reported work this summer to clean up issues with his mechanics? “Every quarterback has to continue to work on those things.”

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McDaniels has been far less up front about the quarterback situation going into the season than his boss Bill Belichick, who proclaimed Newton the starter immediately after Jones was drafted.

But McDaniels did offer praise to both signal-callers during his media availability, including nods to what attracted the team to Jones in the draft.

“He’s won a lot of games in the last year-plus in at Alabama. He’s played in some big games, some pressure situations,” the head offensive coach said. “He takes care of the football. He’s demonstrated an ability to function at a pretty high level in their system, in their offense with their terminology…he certainly stood out in certain obvious ways.”

On the other hand, he lauded Newton’s work ethic, especially in learning the offense on the fly during a COVID-19 restricted camp last year.

“I honestly can’t remember another time in my career where we’ve had a player that has done that. Even the rookies that get drafted, they get information prior to the end of the spring,” McDaniels explained. “He worked his butt off last year to do it, and he came back this year at a much different position. He has a different grasp of the offense, a different understanding of the terminology.”

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He also offered a few good words about rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, whom he said the Patriots were “excited” to add to their running back room.

“Big back. Good vision. Displayed quick feet, the ability to break tackles, make yards with the ball in his hands,” McDaniels said of the bulldozing young runner. “He demonstrated an ability to catch the football and do something with it when he was used in the passing game. And he’s tough enough to stand in there and block blitzers and do things in protection that can help you when he’s in there.”

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