Poll: Cam, Mac, Brian or?

Who's your preferred Pats starter at QB?


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    337

cornwalls@6

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My "preferred starter" is Mac. But I don't have an issue letting him start the season watching for a game or three.
Ditto. I think we see MJ in the first half of the season sometime, and he takes the job for the rest of the way. Cam just seems to have really lost a lot of his passing ability, but his mobility, and the fact that they should have a good running game, makes him a fairly safe to start a couple/few games. But I'd rather see MJ in there this year, rather than sit the entire season. I voted other based on that.
 

Super Nomario

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Well, It depends on the stat you use, but it's worth pointing out that, in ANY/A, of the three 1st round rookie QBs last season who saw significant playing time (Tua, Burrow, Herbert), each of them was either as good as or better than Cam. And, that of the QBs that were worse as a rookie than Cam was last year, they were/are just bad QBs, period, besides Allen (and maybe Daniel Jones, I'm not sure about him.) rookieJones's competition isn't Brady, it's Cam.
Not just Allen, but also guys like Carr and Wentz and Goff. Lamar was pretty bad as a passer as a rookie. You can argue about whether those guys qualify as "good," but there's no disputing they were much worse as rookies than they were later.

And of course, we can't rule out that Mac becomes another Rosen or Haskins or Sanchez or Gabbert or whoever at this point in his career. So you can't dismiss those data points either.

In EPA/play, which includes rushing production, Cam was 25th in the NFL last year at 0.063.
I think we can agree he was in that range with most stats in 2020.

Cam Newton is not an average NFL quarterback. Out of all QBs with at least 320 snaps at QB between 2016 and 2020, he ranks 38th in EPA/play, at 0.051. If you pull up the minimum to 2000 snaps, he ranks 18th... out of 20, with only Joe Flacco and Eli Manning being beneath him. Reduce the minimum to 1500 snaps, and he ranks 27th, above the aforementioned two schmucks and Blake Bortles. 26th is Mitch Trubisky. 25th, Case Keenum.
Cam had a rough 2016, but he was basically average in 2017 (16th in EPA/play) and 2018 (17th), his most recent performances outside of last season (since he only played 2 games in 2019). So I do think it's possible that he's still roughly average. Moreover, I don't think the 25th-best QB performance last year-with that horrible supporting cast-is inconsistent with being averageish either. We saw Brady slip from .272 EPA/play in his MVP year of 2017 to .207 in 2018 to .109 in 2019 with those garbage receivers, only to bounce back to .280 last year in much better circumstances. How much do we think having to throw to flotsam and jetsam depressed Cam's numbers last year? If it was a full .100 (the difference between Brady's 2018 and 2019), that puts him right around league average, or at least medianish.
 

Captaincoop

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Cam is also 4 or 5 years older now, and not the same physically. If he's capable of being an average NFL starter right now, he's been fooling the hell out of my eyes from day one of last season through the first preseason game this year.
 

lexrageorge

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I'm part of the silent minority. Cam should start the season and show what he can do with the (vastly) improved cast of skill players. There is huge downside to starting Mac on a veteran team and watching him struggle for 4-6 games and being forced to bench him as a result.
 

Captaincoop

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I'm part of the silent minority. Cam should start the season and show what he can do with the (vastly) improved cast of skill players. There is huge downside to starting Mac on a veteran team and watching him struggle for 4-6 games and being forced to bench him as a result.
And that downside goes away if Cam sucks for 4 games, is replaced by Mac, and then Mac struggles through the next 4-6 games?

There's no sure thing here, there's a tangible risk that Mac can't handle starting in the NFL. But that risk will be there until they put him on the field. We know what Cam is, if Mac looks better as of the end of preseason, he should start right away IMO.
 

Gash Prex

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I personally don't like Mac starting the first game against a tough Dolphins D. I still believe after game 4 is most likely scenario but a strong preseason is probably moving the needle towards starting sooner.

Mac seems like the type that will make mistakes but then quickly correct them.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I want whatever's in the best interest of Mac Jones's development -- I just don't know what that is.
 

Soxy

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If it's close between the two, and from afar that is certainly the way that it appears, I don't really understand why they would waste any time with Cam. If Mac is the QB of the future, and Cam would only be a marginal upgrade in the present, just put the kid in there and let him develop. He'll learn a lot more by playing than he will by watching.

Relatedly, I am not totally sold on the theory that you can ruin a guy by playing him too early. If Mac is out there from day one and gets his ass kicked, doesn't improve, gets benched, and never recovers, then he was probably never a serious prospect to begin with.

The only reason I can come up with not to start Mac is if he simply isn't ready to do that yet. And if that's the case, then the competition really isn't close and Cam should and would start.
 
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Koufax

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I'm reminded of Bill Parcells' decision to start Drew Bledsoe over (was it Tony Eason?) Many of the same worries were present then. His take was that you learn by playing. It seems as valid today as it did then.
 

Soxy

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I'm reminded of Bill Parcells' decision to start Drew Bledsoe over (was it Tony Eason?) Many of the same worries were present then. His take was that you learn by playing. It seems as valid today as it did then.
Same thing Belichick has said himself over and over. Players get better by playing. Far more than they get better by watching somebody else play.

You sit a rookie QB if he's not ready, and/or the guy him in front of him is so much better that you'd risk mutiny with the team by benching him for a rookie. I'm not sure either of those things apply to this situation.
 
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JMiller29

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Apr 21, 2020
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Mac by a landslide. Mac can throw down field more than 5-10 yards with accuracy. Cam is 50/50 inside of 10 yards. We went out and spent all the money this year on TE’s and WR’s so let’s see what the future does with it. Cam is too one dimensional and easy to defend. No stretching the field when Cam is out there.
 

WheresDewey

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I voted Mac but prefer Cam starts for x number of games to start the season. If Mac isn't the starter by the midpoint, it will either be a big disappointment or a pleasant surprise that Cam has dramatically improved on last season.
 

Bergs

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Well, tonight was the best I've seen Cam look as a Patriot. And Jones was better.
 

SMU_Sox

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I want whatever's in the best interest of Mac Jones's development -- I just don't know what that is.
This and also I’m fine by Cam starting off the season. I think Cam has looked better in both practice and in the games so far. I believe it is his job to lose. Seeing Mac pick things up as quickly as he did reminds me that there is so much that we don’t know as outsiders going into the draft. Work ethic and intelligence is huge for QB. I’m reminded of Sark talking about Mac and how Sark would be able to run anything he threw at him and understand how to pick apart each defense in the SEC.

Quick edit for clarity: Cam has looked better than last year. I think Mac has maybe looked better? Hard to tell in limited snaps vs 2s in games.
 
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BaseballJones

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I'm sorry but wouldn't it be amazing if Mac Jones turned out to be the best QB drafted in his class? I know that's wishful thinking, but all I've seen of the guy both in college and so far with the Pats is good stuff.
 

Nator

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It has to be Jones. Even on the throws Cam is completing, he seems really challenged to put the ball in a spot where his target can catch it and keep running. The offense is clunkier.

Based on the last few interviews with Cam, his attitude seems very positive. A few months go, there was no way I thought that Cam would be able to stay on the roster if Jones was named the starter. Now I feel like there is a possibility he could stay and accept a role as a short yardage and goal line change of pace QB that adds some versatility to the offense.
 

BaseballJones

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Every NFL player would prefer to be the starter. But Cam would be in a sweet spot as the backup to Mac Jones, if he looks at the long view.

- Cam has already made crazy money (over $125 million)
- Cam has already won an MVP award
- Cam has already been a 3x pro bowler and 1x all-pro
- Cam has already led a team to the Super Bowl
- Cam's brains aren't scrambled and he seems like his body is in pretty good physical shape (especially for a football player that's taken some huge hits)

It would be a pretty sweet gig to be a well-paid veteran backup with the Patriots. He'd likely get to run some specialty plays (and thus play more than typical backups), the guys love him, the coaches love him, he could extend his career, but without taking all the punishment that QBs normally do, so when he retires he could retire in pretty good health.

That wouldn't be the worst path for him at this point, to be honest. Though obviously he'd rather be a starter in the NFL.
 

lexrageorge

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Every NFL player would prefer to be the starter. But Cam would be in a sweet spot as the backup to Mac Jones, if he looks at the long view.

- Cam has already made crazy money (over $125 million)
- Cam has already won an MVP award
- Cam has already been a 3x pro bowler and 1x all-pro
- Cam has already led a team to the Super Bowl
- Cam's brains aren't scrambled and he seems like his body is in pretty good physical shape (especially for a football player that's taken some huge hits)

It would be a pretty sweet gig to be a well-paid veteran backup with the Patriots. He'd likely get to run some specialty plays (and thus play more than typical backups), the guys love him, the coaches love him, he could extend his career, but without taking all the punishment that QBs normally do, so when he retires he could retire in pretty good health.

That wouldn't be the worst path for him at this point, to be honest. Though obviously he'd rather be a starter in the NFL.
There is the issue of his contract being laden with incentives that he would not reach as a backup. He clearly wants to start.
 

Captaincoop

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Well, tonight was the best I've seen Cam look as a Patriot. And Jones was better.
This is all correct. That was Cam's absolute best performance in a year+, and he still didn't outperform the rookie. On the other hand, that Eagles lineup and effort was an absolute joke. Cam was out there with our top-ten (5?) offensive line in the NFL, against a group of backup defenders. It's hard to take anything at all away from last night.
 

BaseballJones

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Jones, however, was playing with backup offensive linemen, so that should have been a draw, and he still looked fantastic.
 

rodderick

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This is all correct. That was Cam's absolute best performance in a year+, and he still didn't outperform the rookie. On the other hand, that Eagles lineup and effort was an absolute joke. Cam was out there with our top-ten (5?) offensive line in the NFL, against a group of backup defenders. It's hard to take anything at all away from last night.
Yup. After Cam exited the game my feeling was he'd pretty much ended the debate with a strong performance that Mac would be hard pressed to match. Then Mac came in and played at a similar level on a more even competitive ground (Cam played with starters against a whole lot of Eagles backups). Cam played well enough that he's probably still in the lead to start in Bill's mind, but to me the tie has to go to the guy you have a long term investment in.

I also thought even when Cam made good throws yesterday there was still this laboured motion, man, I don't know, things just seem to flow easier with Mac under center.
 

SMU_Sox

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This is all correct. That was Cam's absolute best performance in a year+, and he still didn't outperform the rookie. On the other hand, that Eagles lineup and effort was an absolute joke. Cam was out there with our top-ten (5?) offensive line in the NFL, against a group of backup defenders. It's hard to take anything at all away from last night.
Totally agree. Just a quick note on the Eagles… they are super top-heavy. The bottom of their roster is a wasteland. Now I want to make a joke about tops and bottoms but nothing good comes to mind.
 

SMU_Sox

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Yup. After Cam exited the game my feeling was he'd pretty much ended the debate with a strong performance that Mac would be hard pressed to match. Then Mac came in and played at a similar level on a more even competitive ground (Cam played with starters against a whole lot of Eagles backups). Cam played well enough that he's probably still in the lead to start in Bill's mind, but to me the tie has to go to the guy you have a long term investment in.

I also thought even when Cam made good throws yesterday there was still this laboured motion, man, I don't know, things just seem to flow easier with Mac under center.
Mac looks so comfortable already. He doesn’t hang onto the ball forever like so many young QBs do. Three step drop and out.

One thing I noticed with both of them was good pocket presence. Cam had a rep where he stepped up in the pocket to avoid outside pressure, reset his feet, and delivered a strike. Mac had some of the best if not the best pocket presence in the draft and it is encouraging to see him continue that.

I wonder if we see Mac get game reps with the 1s before the season starts. I would like to see him vs a starting defense live before I have an opinion on this which is why I still haven’t voted. Right now my answer is Cam by an inch.
 

BaseballJones

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We haven't seen Mac in a real NFL game yet so the jury is still out. But I'm very happy that all my gushing about him during last season and wanting him on the Pats has at least shown to not be totally nuts.
 

SMU_Sox

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We haven't seen Mac in a real NFL game yet so the jury is still out. But I'm very happy that all my gushing about him during last season and wanting him on the Pats has at least shown to not be totally nuts.
It is early but you and @EL Jeffe sure look like you were right. In particular I want to see him vs when a defense changes their pre-snap to post-snap looks. Let's see him vs non-vanilla stuff. That is probably my biggest concern with him going into the year. Nitpicky but it is an important aspect of the job.
 

BaseballJones

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It is early but you and @EL Jeffe sure look like you were right. In particular I want to see him vs when a defense changes their pre-snap to post-snap looks. Let's see him vs non-vanilla stuff. That is probably my biggest concern with him going into the year. Nitpicky but it is an important aspect of the job.
For sure - he has a lot to prove still. He hasn't even faced a team's #1 defense in a preseason game. So a long way to go. But all the things I saw in him last year have shown up so far - quick processing, good decision-making, good awareness and movement in the pocket, a tiny bit of running ability when needed, a highly accurate arm, and definitely enough (though not elite, but good enough) arm strength to hit guys at all levels.

I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far. Let's see how he does against better competition and as things get more complex.
 

Big McCorkle

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Not just Allen, but also guys like Carr and Wentz and Goff. Lamar was pretty bad as a passer as a rookie. You can argue about whether those guys qualify as "good," but there's no disputing they were much worse as rookies than they were later.

And of course, we can't rule out that Mac becomes another Rosen or Haskins or Sanchez or Gabbert or whoever at this point in his career. So you can't dismiss those data points either.

I think we can agree he was in that range with most stats in 2020.

Cam had a rough 2016, but he was basically average in 2017 (16th in EPA/play) and 2018 (17th), his most recent performances outside of last season (since he only played 2 games in 2019). So I do think it's possible that he's still roughly average. Moreover, I don't think the 25th-best QB performance last year-with that horrible supporting cast-is inconsistent with being averageish either. We saw Brady slip from .272 EPA/play in his MVP year of 2017 to .207 in 2018 to .109 in 2019 with those garbage receivers, only to bounce back to .280 last year in much better circumstances. How much do we think having to throw to flotsam and jetsam depressed Cam's numbers last year? If it was a full .100 (the difference between Brady's 2018 and 2019), that puts him right around league average, or at least medianish.
Yes, we certainly can't rule out the possibility that Mac turns out to be an absolute potato (although, I feel quite confident in saying that he's just not going to be remotely close to Rosen or Haskins), but the point of the conversation isn't what his floor is, but what his ceiling as a rookie is, particularly when compared to what Cam's ceiling as a 10-year vet is, as this team isn't getting anywhere with either Newton or Jones playing at their floor. But I think it can be agreed that within the past ten years that there absolutely have been rookie performances that have exceeded what can be reasonably expected out of Newton playing at his ceiling, and you just have to go to last year to see one of them, nevermind going back to 2012 or whenever. The "error bars" for a rookie QB can extend into the top 10 on rare occasions, and do not infrequently get into the "above average" area.

(And I use EPA because A. it's just the best stat for raw production that exists, really, and B. it's quite favorable to Cam, as it (rightly) includes and values his rushing ability.)

I was curious, so I had my brother, who knows how to do this sort of thing, scrape the data to isolate Cam's passing from his running over that stretch. This doesn't include his rushing production on scrambles (but rather designed runs), which would rightly raise up his efficiency on dropbacks, but I think it serves to illustrate two things. The first thing is that Cam is still a very, very effective rusher; ~0.1 EPA/rush is absurdly efficient for a runner, something that running backs practically never achieve. (Which is kind of why the "Lamar Jackson is a running back" thing is, outside of the racism, really funny. Lamar Jackson is just so much more effective at running the ball, as a result of his abilities as a quarterback, than any running back in existence that he kind of can't even be a running back.) The second thing is that Newton, purely as a passer, was just putrid. If you want to bump him up a full 0.100, as a passer he'd rank close to Minshew last year. And I don't think you can really do that, as he was passing with incredibly low volume last year in an environment that was tilted heavily towards offenses, probably as a result of pandemic disruptions.
Capture.PNG

Now, obviously it's quite unfair to not factor in the genuinely positive value that Cam brings as a runner, especially when comparing him with what Jones could bring, seeing as we can be reasonably confident that Jones wouldn't/won't be getting over a hundred designed runs this season. I don't think you're wrong when you say that being the 25th-best QB when forced to give Damiere fucking Byrd 18% of the team's targets isn't necessarily inconsistent with being average-ish, and I would actually take Newton over every QB over him until you get to Burrow at 18th (except for maybe but probably not Goff), but that is still primarily derived from his running ability. He has not been good, or even close to average, at throwing the ball for five years. It's really a question of what threshold he has to reach as a passer for his running ability to take his value the rest of the way towards average.

However, philosophically I'll take 100 points of passing ability over 50 points of passing ability and 50 points of running ability any day of the week and multiple times on Sundays. I'll take Mac Jones's potential to be above average as a passer (as much as it pains me to say his absolute ceiling as a rookie is "above average NFL passer," I'm trying to be realistic here rather than inhaling cocaine on the McCorkle hype train as I'd prefer to be doing) over a relatively assured "average NFL quarterback when and only when you rightfully include his value as a runner" level of play from Newton.

I'm sorry but wouldn't it be amazing if Mac Jones turned out to be the best QB drafted in his class? I know that's wishful thinking, but all I've seen of the guy both in college and so far with the Pats is good stuff.
I don't think "amazing" is the right word to use here. Awesome, great, sweet? Sure, but not amazing. "Amazing" is a sixth-round pick being the best QB in NFL history. We are talking about a guy who was at the head of what was arguably the best offense in the history of college football and statistically outperformed 2019 Joe "Consensus 1st Overall Pick" Burrow (who was throwing to such scrubs as Justin "Should Have Been RotY" Jefferson and Ja'Marr "Picked Above Smith and Waddle" Chase) on almost everything but volume. Not that volume doesn't matter, but Jones didn't get games against Utah State and Georgia Southern to inflate his rate/efficiency stats either. If, ten years from now, Jones is clearly the best out of the five first rounders, I really don't think you'd see all that many people having been amazed by it. How high would one have to be on the other guys, among whom is a FCS QB with one season of work under his belt and another QB who played at BYU against BYU opponents, to be amazed at Jones ending up as the best?
 

heavyde050

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Yes, we certainly can't rule out the possibility that Mac turns out to be an absolute potato (although, I feel quite confident in saying that he's just not going to be remotely close to Rosen or Haskins), but the point of the conversation isn't what his floor is, but what his ceiling as a rookie is, particularly when compared to what Cam's ceiling as a 10-year vet is, as this team isn't getting anywhere with either Newton or Jones playing at their floor. But I think it can be agreed that within the past ten years that there absolutely have been rookie performances that have exceeded what can be reasonably expected out of Newton playing at his ceiling, and you just have to go to last year to see one of them, nevermind going back to 2012 or whenever. The "error bars" for a rookie QB can extend into the top 10 on rare occasions, and do not infrequently get into the "above average" area.

(And I use EPA because A. it's just the best stat for raw production that exists, really, and B. it's quite favorable to Cam, as it (rightly) includes and values his rushing ability.)

I was curious, so I had my brother, who knows how to do this sort of thing, scrape the data to isolate Cam's passing from his running over that stretch. This doesn't include his rushing production on scrambles (but rather designed runs), which would rightly raise up his efficiency on dropbacks, but I think it serves to illustrate two things. The first thing is that Cam is still a very, very effective rusher; ~0.1 EPA/rush is absurdly efficient for a runner, something that running backs practically never achieve. (Which is kind of why the "Lamar Jackson is a running back" thing is, outside of the racism, really funny. Lamar Jackson is just so much more effective at running the ball, as a result of his abilities as a quarterback, than any running back in existence that he kind of can't even be a running back.) The second thing is that Newton, purely as a passer, was just putrid. If you want to bump him up a full 0.100, as a passer he'd rank close to Minshew last year. And I don't think you can really do that, as he was passing with incredibly low volume last year in an environment that was tilted heavily towards offenses, probably as a result of pandemic disruptions.
View attachment 43598

Now, obviously it's quite unfair to not factor in the genuinely positive value that Cam brings as a runner, especially when comparing him with what Jones could bring, seeing as we can be reasonably confident that Jones wouldn't/won't be getting over a hundred designed runs this season. I don't think you're wrong when you say that being the 25th-best QB when forced to give Damiere fucking Byrd 18% of the team's targets isn't necessarily inconsistent with being average-ish, and I would actually take Newton over every QB over him until you get to Burrow at 18th (except for maybe but probably not Goff), but that is still primarily derived from his running ability. He has not been good, or even close to average, at throwing the ball for five years. It's really a question of what threshold he has to reach as a passer for his running ability to take his value the rest of the way towards average.

However, philosophically I'll take 100 points of passing ability over 50 points of passing ability and 50 points of running ability any day of the week and multiple times on Sundays. I'll take Mac Jones's potential to be above average as a passer (as much as it pains me to say his absolute ceiling as a rookie is "above average NFL passer," I'm trying to be realistic here rather than inhaling cocaine on the McCorkle hype train as I'd prefer to be doing) over a relatively assured "average NFL quarterback when and only when you rightfully include his value as a runner" level of play from Newton.


I don't think "amazing" is the right word to use here. Awesome, great, sweet? Sure, but not amazing. "Amazing" is a sixth-round pick being the best QB in NFL history. We are talking about a guy who was at the head of what was arguably the best offense in the history of college football and statistically outperformed 2019 Joe "Consensus 1st Overall Pick" Burrow (who was throwing to such scrubs as Justin "Should Have Been RotY" Jefferson and Ja'Marr "Picked Above Smith and Waddle" Chase) on almost everything but volume. Not that volume doesn't matter, but Jones didn't get games against Utah State and Georgia Southern to inflate his rate/efficiency stats either. If, ten years from now, Jones is clearly the best out of the five first rounders, I really don't think you'd see all that many people having been amazed by it. How high would one have to be on the other guys, among whom is a FCS QB with one season of work under his belt and another QB who played at BYU against BYU opponents, to be amazed at Jones ending up as the best?
Thank you so much for this analysis. A really great post.
 

SMU_Sox

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I don't think "amazing" is the right word to use here. Awesome, great, sweet? Sure, but not amazing. "Amazing" is a sixth-round pick being the best QB in NFL history. We are talking about a guy who was at the head of what was arguably the best offense in the history of college football and statistically outperformed 2019 Joe "Consensus 1st Overall Pick" Burrow (who was throwing to such scrubs as Justin "Should Have Been RotY" Jefferson and Ja'Marr "Picked Above Smith and Waddle" Chase) on almost everything but volume. Not that volume doesn't matter, but Jones didn't get games against Utah State and Georgia Southern to inflate his rate/efficiency stats either. If, ten years from now, Jones is clearly the best out of the five first rounders, I really don't think you'd see all that many people having been amazed by it. How high would one have to be on the other guys, among whom is a FCS QB with one season of work under his belt and another QB who played at BYU against BYU opponents, to be amazed at Jones ending up as the best?
I would be amazed if he were better than Lawrence. Mac Jones being better than Lawrence would be shocking. I also don't agree with scouting the helmet - I don't think it is appropriate to categorize Trey Lance as an FCS QB without talking about his context. He was a special talent. I was lower on Wilson than consensus. Level of competition is a factor in evaluation but it is never the primary factor. Mac Jones also started the same number of games as Lance. While he had more time as a backup he did not as a starter. We're talking about a small sample size of guys to choose from so perhaps none of this should be shocking but yeah if Jones beats out Lawrence et al I will be.

You forgot Terrance Marshal to add to that list - a 2nd rounder :). That 2019 LSU team was stacked. Having watched both Joe Burrow was more pin-point accurate as well as had better athleticism at the position.

Both QB threw to a bunch of 1st and 2nd round guys.


Quick edit: loved the epa piece... kind of damning and stylistically I am with you. I would rather have the 100 passer vs 50/50 guy.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I wonder if we see Mac get game reps with the 1s before the season starts. I would like to see him vs a starting defense live before I have an opinion on this which is why I still haven’t voted. Right now my answer is Cam by an inch.
Yeah I’m kinda in the same place. I kept getting excited seeing him make good throws yesterday and I had to keep reminding myself that basically no one on defense when Mac was in is going to sniff actual NFL playing time (and if they do I pity the Eagles).

I have no evidence to support this but I have a hunch that BB is going to give Cam the first 4 weeks and evaluate the position after that. BB routinely treats Games 1-4 as quasi-preseason anyway, and that will likely be even more true this year with an extra game on the schedule. If the Pats are 3-1 or better after those 4 games Cam will probably remain the starter until he hits a rough patch (unless they win those games on the strength of the D and Cam clearly sucks).
 

SoxVindaloo

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Yeah I’m kinda in the same place. I kept getting excited seeing him make good throws yesterday and I had to keep reminding myself that basically no one on defense when Mac was in is going to sniff actual NFL playing time (and if they do I pity the Eagles).

I have no evidence to support this but I have a hunch that BB is going to give Cam the first 4 weeks and evaluate the position after that. BB routinely treats Games 1-4 as quasi-preseason anyway, and that will likely be even more true this year with an extra game on the schedule. If the Pats are 3-1 or better after those 4 games Cam will probably remain the starter until he hits a rough patch (unless they win those games on the strength of the D and Cam clearly sucks).
I agree with this reading of Belichick's probably philosophy.I think the first quarter of the season has been treated as an extended preseason since the last CBA and its limitations on contact have been in place. I also think Belichick would not want Mac starting against TB 12 in week 4, particularly if he views him as the future franchise QB. If they are 3-1 after 4 perhaps Cam starts until the bye in week 14 (although that seems a little late).
 

5dice

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I also think Belichick would not want Mac starting against TB 12 in week 4, particularly if he views him as the future franchise QB.
I don't understand this commonly repeated theme. If Brady is going to come in and win anyways, BB would be shielding Jones from exactly what?
Losing to the best QB ever? That sounds like a forgone conclusion for most. Hearing the cheers for the most important athlete in Boston history returning home? Would Mac suddenly be "more intimidated" than he already was? If they play well or actually win, it could be an amazing step forward. If they lose, what's the difference?
 

Captaincoop

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I don't understand this commonly repeated theme. If Brady is going to come in and win anyways, BB would be shielding Jones from exactly what?
Losing to the best QB ever? That sounds like a forgone conclusion for most. Hearing the cheers for the most important athlete in Boston history returning home? Would Mac suddenly be "more intimidated" than he already was? If they play well or actually win, it could be an amazing step forward. If they lose, what's the difference?
I don't believe for a second that this is a valid line of thought. Does Belichick strike you as a guy who thinks that way?
 

Big McCorkle

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I would be amazed if he were better than Lawrence. Mac Jones being better than Lawrence would be shocking. I also don't agree with scouting the helmet - I don't think it is appropriate to categorize Trey Lance as an FCS QB without talking about his context. He was a special talent. I was lower on Wilson than consensus. Level of competition is a factor in evaluation but it is never the primary factor. Mac Jones also started the same number of games as Lance. While he had more time as a backup he did not as a starter. We're talking about a small sample size of guys to choose from so perhaps none of this should be shocking but yeah if Jones beats out Lawrence et al I will be.

You forgot Terrance Marshal to add to that list - a 2nd rounder :). That 2019 LSU team was stacked. Having watched both Joe Burrow was more pin-point accurate as well as had better athleticism at the position.

Both QB threw to a bunch of 1st and 2nd round guys.
Honestly, I never watched much of Clemson when Lawrence was there and I didn't pay any attention to him during the draft process because he was a remarkably boring topic; he was never not going to go to the Jags. So my knowledge of him has always been the surface level of "incredibly highly touted prospect who everyone and their mother(s) thinks is the hottest thing since Andrew Luck, with supposedly great athleticism, a great arm, and a superlative feel for the game." And people whose opinion I trust generally hold to that, so I'm generally not going to question it. That having been said, what I saw from him in his very small, probably worthless preseason sample size was not confidence inspiring. He had one play that was really impressive, the beautiful throw to Marvin Jones with perfect anticipation on a comebacker. (The other noteworthy completion to Jones down the field... I'm not sure about, he had an eternity and I'm pretty sure he really underthrew that ball, either that or the defensive back recovered tremendously.) Other than that, he had a number of ugly throws, and, much more significantly, it felt like he had no feel for the pocket or pass rush, taking a few ugly sacks and constantly camping ten or more yards behind the line of scrimmage. (Is that an Urban Meyer coaching thing? I sure hope not.) I don't think he stepped up in the pocket even once, even when he really needed to. Much more importantly, it's just generally not uncommon for the 'top guy' in the class to not actually end up being the top guy. After one season of play, Herbert looks better than Burrow (but the jury's still out), Allen and Jackson are better than Mayfield, Mahomes and Watson are hilariously better than Trubisky (admittedly, in this case, Trubisky was a head-scratcher at the time), 2nd round Carr is the best guy out of 2014, and while Luck was mostly as-advertised, Wilson is undeniably the best QB to come out of that draft class and was Luck's superior from the very beginning.

The point being, being entirely agnostic of Lawrence and Jones themselves, it's almost by-definition not amazing for the 15th pick to be better than the 1st pick. General consensus is often wrong. Scouts know what they're doing generally, but are never perfect. A lot of the most important stuff in a QBs development happens after they're drafted, meaning the simple fact that Jones/QB5 went to play under Belichick in New England and Lawrence/QB1 went to play under Meyer in Jacksonville could be the deciding factor in one of them putting on a gold jacket in twenty five years. The real insight here has nothing to do with any comparison between the two, though, but rather a message that NFL decision makers need to exercise some degree of humility in their talent evaluation skills. As a pure hypothetical, let's say that there's a draft wherein there are five consensus first-round QBs, and a team can be reasonably confident that at least one of those five will fall to where they're picking at let's say number 12. It would behoove the hypothetical decision makers in charge of that team, let's name them Kyle and John, to realize that neither they nor the other front offices actually know who the best QB is going to be and so probably shouldn't trade two additional first round picks to move up to number 3 so that they can get their pick of three of the five.

But I digress. Moving on, I don't mean to scout the helmet. I mean, just look at my listing of past drafts: the motherfuckers from Louisville and Wyoming have lapped the motherfucker from Oklahoma. What I mean is, in his one year of play against middling competition while on a relatively stacked roster, Trey Lance produced well but not quite to the level of volume or efficiency that you would really hope to see from a player in his circumstances taken at . He had obvious athleticism and by all accounts a great mind and passion for the game, displayed a live arm, he would call his own protections, etc, but was rarely, if ever, forced to play through any moments of difficulty and had serious question marks on his accuracy. Absolutely worthy of a first round pick, but it's easy to see a path where he flames out. (Well, if you ignore the fact that he's playing for Kyle Shanahan who, for all his and Lynch's failings as GMs in trading up to number 3, is an absolutely brilliant coach who casually manufactures wide open receivers and endless YAC for his QBs. Lance probably won't flame out.) This is getting way longer than I intended, so, in short:

Wilson: accuracy issues in the short to intermediate area, inconsistent mechanics, seemingly lacks great anticipation (reactive rather than proactive), and also seemed to lack any instinct for self-preservation, which, while one might appreciate the moxie, one probably won't appreciate a slew of missed games due to injury.

Fields: ridiculously high average time to throw, took a lot of sacks, and, to my eye, very bad pocket presence despite being quite mobile. Will need to improve substantially on all of that, given how much less of a margin for error there is against NFL defenses.

So when Jones leads, again, what was arguably the best offense in the history of college football and decidedly outperforms everyone else, one is forced to ask what makes any of the others obviously better. It goes without saying that Jones played at Alabama, but it's not as though the other guys (Lance: NDSU, the Alabama of FCS; Wilson: BYU, 96th ranked SOS in CFB; Lawrence: goddamn Clemson; Fields: Ohio Fucking State) were struggling to drag their teams to victory against markedly superior competition. Same for when Jones arguably has a better season than Burrow, for whom the supporting cast argument rings even more hollow, did the previous year. If they are so much better prospects than him that one can say with 90 or 95 percent certainty that it would be amazing for him to end up as the best of the bunch, then why weren't they as dominant as he was?

Of course, there are obviously potentially valid and correct answers to that question, especially if you reduce the level of confidence. If you asked me to take Jones or the field in who'd be the best QB out this draft class, I'd take the field (the field, not Fields) without hesitation. (Imagine how hypocritical of me it would be not to!) I don't know who has the highest chance, although I'm pretty sure it's not Zach Wilson. But, Jones very well could be the best. For all the talk about how the ability to run gives you a high ceiling, the two best quarterbacks in the history of football are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, in that order.

This is really too many words to answer "shit, who knows? he could be," to the question of "could Jones be the best QB in this draft class?"

I don't believe for a second that this is a valid line of thought. Does Belichick strike you as a guy who thinks that way?
One thing I will say with confidence is that if Mac Jones is the sort of player that needs to be shielded from losing to TB lead by TFB, he has zero chance of making it in the NFL. Also, I can think of another rookie QB who lost to Tom Brady and the Bucs. In week 4. His name was Justin Herbert. Anyone know how his rookie season went after that?
 
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lexrageorge

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I don't think Belichick is going to shield Jones.

I do firmly believe, however, that Belichick has a much higher opinion of Cam than most of SoSH. And that he is sensitive to the learning curve a rookie QB has in this league, especially when leading an offense that is as complex as New England's. The decision, which has essentially been made for Game 1, will be based on which QB Bill believes will give them the better chance to win.
 

SMU_Sox

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@Big McCorkle points taken. Traditionally though your expected value for a guy picked first is much higher than a guy picked 15th. Even at QB. Your confidence levels for that can be quite high as historical data will prove that out with AV. If you looked at AV of 1st vs 15th guy you could plot this out. Of course with everything in football there is a ton of variation. There is a great book which is a study done by two brilliant authors on this. Their conclusion was teams tend to overvalue higher picks and trading back is usually the right answer. Of course having read the damn thing I can’t find it. I’ll come back and post it when my memory doesn’t faulter. But when it comes to QBs… two notes: first round QBs >>>>>> anyone picked later. Same for edges. NFL tends to know how to pick edges and QBs. Obviously lots of exceptions to that but exceptions are not the norm.

Arif Hasan of the Athletic has done great analysis of draft success and failure. The most predictive board historically is his own consensus/composite big board which takes 50-60 draft analysts boards and then averages the prospect rankings. I’m fortunate enough to have been part of that the past 2 years. The most successful board though is the actual draft. Now a huge part of that is opportunity bias but the other part is that, believe it or not, NFL teams tend to know what they are doing. Since the vast majority of players do not become full time starters I think fans are biased towards thinking that NFL teams don’t know what they are doing. I’m not saying you believe that but many casual fans do. The point being when you combine the fact that Jones was QB5 and that he was taken later than the other guys BUT taken in the first it’s likely that he will not be the best in this class. But it’s also a contest where there are five guys in the first and a handful of other maybe future starters taken day 2-3 so who knows. Landing spot is as important or close to as important in predicting success as when they were taken. Huge believer of that. Landing spot is so critical. To me Wilson, Fields, and Lawrence all landed in tough spots. Fields might see both his HC and GM change after this year. I have 0 faith in Urban Meyer in the NFL. Wilson landed with the Jets who have a bad organization historically with the Johnsons at the helm. Also I truly do not think he was as talented as the others but one thing I know is my limitations and also that I shouldn’t be overconfident in my own evaluation.

If we go by Arif’s consensus board Lance, Fields, and Wilson were all top 15 IIRC selections and Mac Jones was somewhere in the mid to upper mid20s. Again seems like he is probably an underdog compared to the others.

HT: SuperNomario the book is called Draft Stage. You seem like a quant type so you might really like it. Personally I think it is a must read.
 

tims4wins

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The thing about the QBs, and I have been saying this since before the draft, is that situation matters more than maybe any other variable. I would be more confident in predicting the success of the QBs based on which team takes them as opposed to predicting success based on the name of the QB. The Niners and Pats QBs have a better chance of success, IMO, than the Jets, Jags, and Bears. Today I would absolutely bet on Jones having a better career than Wilson and Fields. If you traded either to the Pats or Niners I would bet on them over whoever the Jets or Bears took. Is that too simplistic? Maybe. But if forced to bet I’d definitely bet on Shanahan and BFB over the Jets, Jags, or Bears. Name on the back of the jersey be damned.
 

johnmd20

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The thing about the QBs, and I have been saying this since before the draft, is that situation matters more than maybe any other variable. I would be more confident in predicting the success of the QBs based on which team takes them as opposed to predicting success based on the name of the QB. The Niners and Pats QBs have a better chance of success, IMO, than the Jets, Jags, and Bears. Today I would absolutely bet on Jones having a better career than Wilson and Fields. If you traded either to the Pats or Niners I would bet on them over whoever the Jets or Bears took. Is that too simplistic? Maybe. But if forced to bet I’d definitely bet on Shanahan and BFB over the Jets, Jags, or Bears. Name on the back of the jersey be damned.
The best way to show evidence for this is to point out Nick Mullens is 2nd all time in passing yards in the first 16 games of his career, behind Mahomes. Where you are definitely matters.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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Mac Jones right now is a better QB than Cam Newton right now. Period. The long throw to Harry last night was virtually perfect placement. A situation doesn't exist in which Cam even comes close to that kind of accuracy. Top 5 oline, top 5 RB room, receivers who can catch the ball. With how fast things can happen with injuries or performance declining, wasting a year of this team as currently constructed on the inability of Cam Newton would be a travesty.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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I've been very vocal about my 100% confidence that Cam starts the season, and probably the majority of the snaps.

But, considering the knocks on Mac coming out of college, his perfect deep ball to Harry last night gave me a chubby. That was such a perfectly thrown ball. Had Harry simply stayed on his feet, he'd have coasted untouched into the endzone.

Which is something I never thought were possible for Harry as of last season.

What a fucking throw.
 

Jimbodandy

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The thing about the QBs, and I have been saying this since before the draft, is that situation matters more than maybe any other variable. I would be more confident in predicting the success of the QBs based on which team takes them as opposed to predicting success based on the name of the QB. The Niners and Pats QBs have a better chance of success, IMO, than the Jets, Jags, and Bears. Today I would absolutely bet on Jones having a better career than Wilson and Fields. If you traded either to the Pats or Niners I would bet on them over whoever the Jets or Bears took. Is that too simplistic? Maybe. But if forced to bet I’d definitely bet on Shanahan and BFB over the Jets, Jags, or Bears. Name on the back of the jersey be damned.
Yeah couldn't help feeling bad for Fields when the Bears grabbed him. We knew Wilson was fucked when the Jets telegraphed that they were grabbing him, but the last time that the Bears developed a good QB, MTV was still showing rock videos.
 

Super Nomario

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The "error bars" for a rookie QB can extend into the top 10 on rare occasions, and do not infrequently get into the "above average" area.
I think "infrequently" is fair.

(And I use EPA because A. it's just the best stat for raw production that exists, really, and B. it's quite favorable to Cam, as it (rightly) includes and values his rushing ability.)
There is good and bad in EPA. I think you've laid out some of the good. For bad, it's a great "descriptive" stat but not necessarily "predictive." One 90-yard pass can have a pretty big effect on EPA (as it can on rate-based stats like Y/A and assorted families). But whatever.

More concerning is that there is no one EPA. It is based on calculations of probability and smoothing curves of small sample sizes. Different sources for EPA yield different results. You seem to be using rbsdm, which has Cam as the 17th-best by EPA in 2018, for instance, including both running and passing. ESPN's EPA for 2018, however, has Cam as the 11th-best passer (though only 16th overall). Pro Football Reference doesn't have individual player EPA, but it does have the Panthers with the 14th-best passing offense and 11th overall for 2018. 2017 is a similar story; Cam is barely positive as a passer per your chart, he's 16th in rbsdm EPA, 18th as a passer per ESPN EPA (and 12th overall), and the Panthers were the 15th-best passing offense per EPA (but only 19th overall; while Cam had 5.4 yards per carry, Jonathan Stewart and rookie McCaffrey were well under 4).

So depending on which measure of EPA you use, you can either conclude that for 2017-2018, Cam was a marginal passer whose running brought him into the average range, or an average passer whose running was the cherry on top. Which is the real Cam? I like to look at the team results. The 2017 Panthers finished 12th in points, 17th in yards, 10th in points per drive, 16th in yards per drive: averageish, despite RBs not producing much. The 2018 Panthers were 14th in points, 10th in yards, 11th in points per drive, 8th in yards per drive. Above-average no matter how you slice it. That's Cam second-most-recent season and he was helming an offense in the top 10-15. In 2019, with a better supporting cast (healthier Greg Olsen, another year under the belts of McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, and DJ Moore) but only two games of Cam, the Panthers slipped to 20th in points, 19th in yards, 22nd and 25th per drive, respectively.

If you want to bump him up a full 0.100, as a passer he'd rank close to Minshew last year. And I don't think you can really do that, as he was passing with incredibly low volume last year in an environment that was tilted heavily towards offenses, probably as a result of pandemic disruptions.
I don't know what the low volume and pandemic disruptions have to do with anything. For the record, I don't know what the right amount is-I don't think anyone does-but ...

I don't think you're wrong when you say that being the 25th-best QB when forced to give Damiere fucking Byrd 18% of the team's targets isn't necessarily inconsistent with being average-ish
... this is my point. And Byrd, at 7.8 yards per target, wasn't even the worst offender on a team that averaged 7.1.

HT: SuperNomario the book is called Draft Stage. You seem like a quant type so you might really like it. Personally I think it is a must read.
I've read it. :)

But, considering the knocks on Mac coming out of college, his perfect deep ball to Harry last night gave me a chubby. That was such a perfectly thrown ball. Had Harry simply stayed on his feet, he'd have coasted untouched into the endzone.
Yeah, I noticed in college a lot of his deep sideline throws tended to die / fade to the middle of the field, so seeing that throw out of Jones was really nice.
 

tmracht

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HT: SuperNomario the book is called Draft Stage. You seem like a quant type so you might really like it. Personally I think it is a must read.
I also would like to read that, I'm guessing it's listed on Amazon as: The Drafting Stage: Creating a Marketplace for NFL Draft Picks?
 

radsoxfan

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Newton sucked last year. Bring on McCorkle. I think "sit and learn" is kind of overrated. Jones will learn by far the most if he is playing this year. He might make more mistakes than if he sat for a while, but I'd rather have him out here and doing and I don't think this team can really win anything with Cam at QB anyways.
I agree.

I tend to compare sports to medicine to a fault, but doing things on your own and making mistakes is the best learning you can do.

In radiology residency for example, 1st and 2nd year residents used to read all of the overnight cases by themselves, make a lot of mistakes, but learn a ton. Of course this is crazy stressful (in fact many places have 24/7 attending coverage now because that's best for patient care). But if you ignore the obvious patient implications, there is no doubt being on your own, with feedback soon after, is better for learning and getting up to peak performance as quickly as possible.

Of course there may be a small minority of people that lose all confidence and it has a long term detrimental effect, but I don't think this happens too often. Who knows how good Mac will ultimately be, but I would be surprised if the end result ends up worse because he started "too early".