September 10, 2021

Starting Mac Jones Overshadows What Will Really Make Patriots Successful in 2021

The Patriots created some last-minute buzz when they released former NFL MVP Cam Newton. This move signals the official start of the Mac Jones era in New England. It also marks a complete change in the Patriots’ structure moving behind a first-year quarterback to lead the charge in the 2021 season. 

The excitement for this year's New England Patriots should be focused on the other side of the ball. While Jones could be exactly what the Patriots needed, the defense will take this team much farther.

A New Era

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is taking a huge chance on the Alabama product. Jones has shown signs of promise behind his play in the preseason and has all of New England buzzing. 

The 22-year-old quarterback will have every opportunity to take full control of the starting job, cementing himself as the future of the franchise. Belichick has gone against the grain of his entire Patriots’ tenure by pushing all his chips in with a rookie quarterback. 

The decision isn’t surprising to former Patriots star safety Rodney Harrison, who voiced that it was a no-brainer move.

“I just think Mac Jones — he did everything that coach Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels wanted him to do,” Harrison said. “He’s the perfect quarterback for this system. Why would you want to go and put Cam Newton — a guy that’s still learning the offense, a guy that’s been super inconsistent. This kid, he came out his very first (game action) and he’s running the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.

“I just think this is the right guy for the job. And it’s a no-brainer to me. I don’t understand how this could be hard for Coach Belichick. I know he has a lot of loyalty to Cam, but at the end of the day, the thing he always preached to us, he said, ‘I’m going to do what’s best for the team.’ In my opinion, what’s best for the team is starting Mac Jones and not Cam Newton."

The Defense Is The True Key

Belichick's gutsy move speaks much more about the Patriots' confidence in their defense. It’s been the one aspect of the team that hasn’t received enough recognition as it could be the game-changing factor in 2021. 

New England spent the offseason revamping their team from top-to-bottom. That includes a lot of offensive weapons for Jones to play with. But it is the defense that got a boost through free agency, and the return of some COVID opt-outs. 

The Patriots added prominent players such as Matthew Judon, Davon Godchaux, and brought back veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The pieces are in place on that side of the ball for New England to become one of the top units in the league. Even without their new additions, the Patriots were a feared defense in 2020.

Although the free agency additions are a big boost, the most important aspect about this defense is the depth and the superstar talent. Although star corner Stephon Gilmore will start the season on the PUP list, the Patriots will be able to rely on other stars such as Devin McCourty and Dont'a Hightower.

More importantly, all that should ease the pressure off Jones’ shoulders to lead the charge as he moves through his rookie campaign. It sets up what should be a promising season ahead in New England.

Photo: Getty Images