When the New England Patriots took Mac Jones in the first round, it became clear that the Alabama product would be the team’s quarterback of the future. Few expected that the future would come in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
After an impressive summer session, the Patriots abruptly cut veteran Cam Newton, opening the door for Jones to start right away. It is a surprising gambit by head coach Bill Belichick, but it makes it clear that he believes that the rookie is ready to step right in.
There was no special meeting or announcement in which Jones found out that he would take over the job vacated by the legendary Tom Brady less than two years ago. In a radio interview, he says he found out during a pretty standard team meeting, after the team had decided on cuts.
“I think it was just kind of with the team meeting and stuff,” he told Merloni and Fauria on WEEI. “Obviously, there’s a lot of guys that they have to get rid of and stuff and it is a tough day for everybody. So, just to be in that room and be where I am at right now as a rookie just to hear that, it’s hard for everybody because there’s a lot of teammates on that day that got let go.
#Patriots QB Mac Jones was asked if he was surprised to be the starter:
“Not really. Like I always say — I prepare to be the starter and I had a chance to get a lot of reps, so nothing really changes.” pic.twitter.com/Po6tGAV8GR
— Merloni & Fauria (@MerloniFauria) September 7, 2021
Mac Jones understandably felt for the teammates—including Newton, with whom he bonded early on—that lost their jobs that day. He is excited to step right in and lead the franchise, though.
“But, I am looking forward. It is a great opportunity and it’s something I have always wanted to do — be a NFL starting quarterback. But like I said, it doesn’t really mean much. The label is the label, but you’ve got to go out and produce and that’s just what it comes down to.”
He also says he wasn’t surprised, in large part because he always prepares himself to start. That served him well in 2019, when he stepped in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa. He looked solid that year, and never looked back, dominating competition as Alabama’s full-time starter in 2020.
“Not really,” he said. “I mean, like I always say, I prepare to be the starter and every day you come in and I got the chance to get a lot of reps, so nothing really changes. Just trying to be a good teammate. Trying to learn the plays every day and fix what I messed up on, listen to Josh [McDaniels] and all the guys in the quarterbacks room, you just take their advice like I always have since I have been here.
“Like I said, nothing really changes. It’s exciting.”
He and Tagovailoa will be on opposite sidelines on Sunday. The New England Patriots open with Tua and the Miami Dolphins at 4:25 p.m. ET.
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