The New England Patriots will ultimately make the swap from Cam Newton to Mac Jones, the membership’s first-round choice within the 2021 NFL Draft. That is inevitable given the lofty draft capital the group has already put within the Alabama product. The large query, nonetheless, is when that swap will happen. Whereas the one particular person with even the slightest inkling of when he might pull the set off on such a team-altering determination is Invoice Belichick (and he might not know for certain but), the discharge of New England’s 2021 regular-season schedule does give us a possibility to throw a few darts on the 17-game slate and theorize when a change might come.
After all, that is mere hypothesis at this level within the course of as nothing that occurs in Could will really shift that high spot on the depth chart. As Belichick famous within the speedy aftermath of the Jones choose, Newton continues to be QB1 as issues at present stand in Foxborough. As we noticed final season, he was extraordinarily loyal to Newton all through his ups and downs and stored him cemented because the starter even when no one would have batted a watch had he determined to roll out Jarrett Stidham late within the 12 months. That is all additional hammering house that there is little or no motive to imagine that Newton’s standing because the Patriots’ Week 1 starter is in jeopardy, that means a change — if there even is one in 2021 — should happen sooner or later past that.
The place might that be precisely? Let me choose up just a few darts.
Week 5: Patriots at Texans
That is probably the earliest likelihood we would have of seeing Jones begin below middle for the Patriots. It is arduous to ascertain a situation the place Belichick unseats Newton over the primary month of the season, particularly with the looming matchup with Tom Brady on deck when the Buccaneers come to city in Week 4. If that recreation proves to be a blowout, nonetheless, and Brady will get the final giggle over his former group and head coach who may very well be below .500 at the moment, this would appear like a major spot to make a change.
This pocket within the schedule would additionally present a straightforward touchdown spot for Jones as New England’s opponents over the following few weeks aren’t precisely world-beaters on the defensive aspect of the ball. The Houston Texans are checked out as arguably the worst group in the whole NFL heading into 2021. If they’re with out star quarterback Deshaun Watson at that time, it is that a lot simpler for Jones as he will get his toes moist within the league. After that, he’d get a house matchup with the Cowboys in Week 6. Final season, Dallas ranked twenty first within the league towards the go in accordance with Soccer Outsiders’ DOVA metric, and if these struggles bleed into this coming season, Jones might look to stack up two delicate openings.
One of many essential issues that give me pause about this chance really taking place, nonetheless, is Belichick. Would he be so reactionary after a loss to Tom Brady and hit the nuclear button? I might guess the extra probably situation could be Belichick holding agency, rolling Newton again out in Week 5 towards a clearly inferior group within the Texans, and seeking to bounce again. That stated, if Jones is prepared and the boldness in Newton begins to dwindle early, that is an early date to maintain your eye on.
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Week 12: Patriots vs. Titans
This can be a little bit of an underrated spot, however one that might make lots of sense. New England travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Thursday Evening Soccer to kick off Week 11. If they’re treading water by this level within the 12 months and fall to the Falcons on a nationwide stage, I like this as one other space the place we might see a change. After taking part in on Thursday night time, Belichick would have a little bit further time to prep Jones main as much as a house matchup with Tennessee, making this an advantageous pocket for him. In all, there’s a 10-day window between Week 11 and Week 12 for New England.
Not solely would the rookie have ample time to gear up for his first begin, however New England’s schedule past that additionally provides him some respiration room. After dealing with Tennessee, the Patriots have further day off earlier than they go to the Payments in Buffalo for Monday Evening Soccer to wrap up Week 13. Then, they hit the bye in Week 14 earlier than taking part in out the ultimate month of the season. With regards to having as a lot time as potential to get able to go, that is as best of an space that you will discover on New England’s 2021 schedule.
In the meantime, the Titans have been one of many worst defenses within the league final 12 months towards the go and significantly struggled to stress the quarterback. The membership did add Bud Dupree in free company to try to handle that difficulty, but when they nonetheless flip in mediocre outcomes making use of stress, Jones may very well be taking a look at a comparatively clear pocket in his debut.
Week 15: Patriots at Colts
At any time when there’s a looming quarterback change, the sport after the bye week will all the time garner a ton of consideration.
For the Patriots, their bye comes late within the 12 months in Week 14. If they’re out of playoff competition by mid-December and Newton continues to be entrenched because the starter, it makes all of the sense on the earth for the group to show issues over to Jones for the ultimate 4 video games of the 12 months. At that time, the stress to win could be taken off of Jones’ shoulders, and issues actually change into solely about getting him as many reside reps as potential for him to be higher ready in 2022.
Going through the Colts in Indianapolis with DeForest Buckner main that entrance seven is not precisely a dream first matchup in your younger quarterback, however there’s additionally a case to be made that throwing him into the hearth out of the gate might show to be the most effective factor for him and the membership in the long term.
After the Colts in Week 15, the Patriots end out the 12 months with house matchups towards the Payments and Jaguars earlier than heading all the way down to Miami to wrap up the common season with a recreation towards the Dolphins.