Poll: Cam, Mac, Brian or?

Who's your preferred Pats starter at QB?


  • Total voters
    337

Traut

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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".
This is true in everything. Want to get better at anything? Do more of said thing.

The best reason to not start a rookie QB is that the rest of the team is so terrible that there’s a substantial likelihood of injury. That’s not the case for Mac and the Patriots.

The other reason not to start a rookie QB is he lacks the tools or skills to succeed at the moment and there are better options to help the team win. But this is true of every position. If you aren’t the best player for the job than you shouldn’t start.

I trust Belichick will start whoever he thinks gives them the best chance to win. But it seems very clear that Mac is the guy that McDaniels and Belichick wanted.

The only mystery here is how the Patriots internally see who gives them the best chance to win right now.
 

BaseballJones

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Barring something very surprising, Cam Newton is going to be the week 1 starter. If the Patriots win - even if he doesn't play well - he will continue to start. If they lose but Newton plays well (say he has a good game but the defense is terrible and they lose 34-31 or something), he will continue to start. But BB will, I am sure, have a very close eye on the situation, both in games and in practice. He knows that Cam is not the QB of the future. But he also won't want to rush Mac either. So I see Cam probably starting a few games at least, and then, if he's not playing well and the team is losing, he might switch to Mac.

I think Mac is better and I'd prefer him to play, but I totally understand this approach.
 

Harry Hooper

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The only mystery here is how the Patriots internally see who gives them the best chance to win right now.
Bedard has noted that there may be another angle to it: BB may think that Mac will not hold up over the 17+ games, so having Cam start initially will be a form of load management.
 

radsoxfan

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This is true in everything. Want to get better at anything? Do more of said thing.
Right. But I think there is some prevailing thought that you have to pick the right time with these rookie QBs, don’t want to overwhelm them, ruin their confidence etc.

My point is that in medicine (and many other fields I’m sure) people get thrown into the deep end pretty quickly and end up swimming just fine. Perhaps a small minority really have a loss of confidence affecting them long term, but I don’t think it’s typical.

Lots of competing factors in the decision here, I don’t think it’s an obvious one. Especially if Cam continues to look solid. I’m just saying I wouldn’t put much weight into letting someone watch from the sidelines in an attempt to perfectly time his debut as a way to improve his long term outcome.

Basically…. if Mac ends up sucking, playing him week 1 isn’t going to be the cause. It’s going to be because he sucks. If he turns out to be good, it won’t be because he held a clipboard for the first half of the season.
 
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Traut

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My point is that in medicine (and many other fields I’m sure) people get thrown into the deep end pretty quickly and end up swimming just fine. Perhaps a small minority really have a loss of confidence effecting them long term, but I don’t think it’s typical.
Law is the same. On my first day as a lawyer, I was handed 5 files and told “here you go - we have a library downstairs and we will review before you ship anything.” It is often called “baptism by fire.”

My guess is people who can’t handle this would likely flame out no matter how much hand holding they are given.

I do think to your point here that Mac is the QB of the future and if you start him on week 1 you are committing to him for at least this season and probably next. You can’t yank him around.

There’s no such concern pulling Cam if they open 0-4.
 

Captaincoop

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So. I voted Mac. I am Team Mac.

But...

If we can get that Cam from last night...I am ok with starting Cam with a VERY short leash
I'm close to agreeing with this, except I keep thinking about how pathetic the Eagles approach to that game was and it makes me think again. There was absolutely no pressure and the receivers were "Alabama open". He's just not going to play like that in a regular season scenario.
 

SoxVindaloo

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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?
I 100% agree that Belichick never cares about the optics of anything, more about preservation of a long term asset. Maybe it comes down to the convenience of the quarter pole (4/17ths this year) when he typically changes gears a bit.
 

NortheasternPJ

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So. I voted Mac. I am Team Mac.

But...

If we can get that Cam from last night...I am ok with starting Cam with a VERY short leash
This is where I'm at. I'd love to see Mac in there, but if Cam can actually play and be good and give Mac some time to grow, lift some weights and still win games that's not a bad scenario. I don't have faith Cam can do it, but if he is able that's fine.
 

kartvelo

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Just wanted to point out that no matter what else happens, there is no way that Mac is getting his first start in week 4.
 

snowmanny

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I think there is some chance for game four. Belichick has a little troll in him and if he thinks they can win the game he might just do it. But 3 is probably more likely than 4.

The reason he would do it would be because he thought it was best for the team, by the way.
 

Hendoo

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I think we should temper our Cam optimism. Yes he looked good but the Eagles sat Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave, and Darius Slay. He had time to read through progressions and stay calm in the pocket. I think he will start game 1, but I want to see Cam look that good against an actual starting defense before I say Mac is going to have to wait a while for his chance.
 

jsinger121

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I think we should temper our Cam optimism. Yes he looked good but the Eagles sat Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave, and Darius Slay. He had time to read through progressions and stay calm in the pocket. I think he will start game 1, but I want to see Cam look that good against an actual starting defense before I say Mac is going to have to wait a while for his chance.
Also don’t forget they put in max protect as well on some of those plays. That won’t happen as much in the regular season.
 

Super Nomario

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Also don’t forget they put in max protect as well on some of those plays. That won’t happen as much in the regular season.
Max protect is a thing teams run sometimes, especially on stuff like play action. And it made extra sense Thursday when Justin Herron was taking snaps at TE.
 

Eddie Jurak

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View: https://twitter.com/ezlazar/status/1429495363392704512?s=20

Evan Lazar: Here is #Patriots OC Josh McDaniels's full quote on the QB situation: "I think that decision from Bill will be made when the time is right to make it. Cam certainly is the starter now, and he has done a good job." More McDaniels: "He [Cam] has gone in there, he played well the other night. He’s practiced well. But, I know those guys are really competing hard and we’re giving them an opportunity to compete and play a lot of football."
 

tims4wins

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It’s actually an interesting quote, probably by accident. Josh says that Cam is the starter now…. but also says Bill will make a decision when the time is right to make it. That clearly implies to me that they are planning on making a move at some point. Josh didn’t say if. He said when.

I wonder if BB is less than thrilled with the quote. Or maybe it’s just obvious, I dunno.
 

lexrageorge

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It’s actually an interesting quote, probably by accident. Josh says that Cam is the starter now…. but also says Bill will make a decision when the time is right to make it. That clearly implies to me that they are planning on making a move at some point. Josh didn’t say if. He said when.

I wonder if BB is less than thrilled with the quote. Or maybe it’s just obvious, I dunno.
I don’t think he said or even implied that. All he said is that Bill will make the final decision when it’s time. And that Cam has done a good job.
 

tims4wins

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Of course not. But I think a more appropriate statement would have been something along the lines of “Cam’s our starting quarterback right now. It’s ultimately up to Bill if that changes”.
 

Traut

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It’s actually an interesting quote, probably by accident. Josh says that Cam is the starter now…. but also says Bill will make a decision when the time is right to make it. That clearly implies to me that they are planning on making a move at some point. Josh didn’t say if. He said when.

I wonder if BB is less than thrilled with the quote. Or maybe it’s just obvious, I dunno.
That is the most vanilla of all quotes. Cam has literally been the starter each of the last two games. Ergo, he is the starter.

No one - Belichick, McDaniels, and/or Cam would disagree that it is a question of when and not if Mac is the starter. Whether it is next week, next month, or next year is anyone’s guess.
 

EL Jeffe

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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.
Being early on Mac as a legit 1st rounder was one of my better calls (broken clocks, et al). If anything, he's exceeded my expectations so far and I was really high on the guy. He ended up being about 2" bigger than what Draftscout had him listed as, and the arm strength has looked better than what he typically showed at Alabama. I'm feeling really good about Mac 2 preseason games in...while understanding we're just two preseason games in. Pre-snap stuff looks good, the accuracy, looks good, the ball is out on time, feet look good in the pocket, he's shown the ability to extend plays...all the. stuff I was pretty confident he could do. We'll see what happens when the bullets are live and teams start really scheming though.
 

Saints Rest

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Being early on Mac as a legit 1st rounder was one of my better calls (broken clocks, et al). If anything, he's exceeded my expectations so far and I was really high on the guy. He ended up being about 2" bigger than what Draftscout had him listed as, and the arm strength has looked better than what he typically showed at Alabama. I'm feeling really good about Mac 2 preseason games in...while understanding we're just two preseason games in. Pre-snap stuff looks good, the accuracy, looks good, the ball is out on time, feet look good in the pocket, he's shown the ability to extend plays...all the. stuff I was pretty confident he could do. We'll see what happens when the bullets are live and teams start really scheming though.
I'm with you on your analysis of Mac, matching or exceeding most draft-time expectations.

But I would also say that Cam too seems to be matching or exceeding most off-season expectations. We haven't seen him run much, either by design or by improvisation -- and I think that's a good thing. A) I don't think he's nearly the dynamic presence wit the ball tucked that he once was, and B) perhaps its forcing him to focus on the passing side of the game. That aside, I feel like what we've seen thru 2 preseason games, and what most of the training camp practices have reported, have shown us a much-improved Cam, compared to 2020. Now admittedly, 2020 was an extremely low-bar to better, but to me, he has looked like a middle-of-the-pack QB so far this season, many somewhere in the 15-20 range. Considering most put him in the 25-30 range last year (at best! in some cases), that's a huge improvement.
 

streeter88

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The struggle I have with the QB battle is this: Which is the real Cam: the 2020 Cam? The preseason 2021 Cam? Or something else? What’s the ceiling on him - if it’s 15-20th best QB, are we really able to be satisfied with that?

And at the same time, Mac is a high draft pick, at a position which is by all accounts a complete crapshoot. So what’s the ceiling on him? Is he an NFL caliber QB at all? Is he a 15-20th best QB, or could he be better? Or worse?

In a nutshell, do you go with “proven mediocre”, or do you gamble on the possibility the kid might actually be good?

BB has assembled a team that could really compete, and it seems like every position group except kicker and QB are much improved. Kicker I have hope will sort itself out, but the QB decision is a fascinating one.

FWIW, if a few more balls were getting caught, I think there would be a much clearer leader even right now.
 

Jungleland

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The struggle I have with the QB battle is this: Which is the real Cam: the 2020 Cam? The preseason 2021 Cam? Or something else? What’s the ceiling on him - if it’s 15-20th best QB, are we really able to be satisfied with that?

And at the same time, Mac is a high draft pick, at a position which is by all accounts a complete crapshoot. So what’s the ceiling on him? Is he an NFL caliber QB at all? Is he a 15-20th best QB, or could he be better? Or worse?

In a nutshell, do you go with “proven mediocre”, or do you gamble on the possibility the kid might actually be good?

BB has assembled a team that could really compete, and it seems like every position group except kicker and QB are much improved. Kicker I have hope will sort itself out, but the QB decision is a fascinating one.

FWIW, if a few more balls were getting caught, I think there would be a much clearer leader even right now.
I think if Cam is the 15th best quarterback (which, while fool's gold he arguably looked to be in the first few games of 2020), I think you start him to begin the season without question. To the point that every position group save his is much improved, middle of the pack QB play would count for much improved itself and should be enough to be competitive in a conference with really only a single super-team.

Of course, if the BB/JMD read on Mac is that he'd step in and provide top third of the league QB play from day 1, by all means he should start then. But in the hypothetical/reality where even with a summer of practice and observation it's a gamble that he gives you a better early season chance to win than Cam, slow playing his development a little isn't the worst thing. Even if for no other reason that it's a lot easier to go from Cam to Mac than from Mac to Cam if the initial starter struggles.
 

Van Everyman

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The ESPN crew, with Steve Young, Randy Moss, Booger and Schefter, was absolutely raving about Cam’s performance the other night. I only saw the highlights which looked … good?

I am not an anti-Cam guy – I really love a lot about him when he is going good and really want him to succeed before handing off to Mac. But I am really struggling to understand why everyone was so ecstatic about this performance given who he was going up against, the fact that it was 9 passes and that he looked like the 2020 Cam the previous week – with the missed passes to Jonnu and the holding the ball too long fumble (Bedard did a pretty good rundown of that).

What am I missing?
 

genoasalami

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I'd give it to Mac because I wouldn't want my starting QB to not be vaxed. Simple as that. Tough to have faith in his decision making when he can't make a simple one regarding an important vaccination.
 

bankshot1

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Sounds like Mac is going to get a fair amount of PT v the G-Men on Sunday.

Whether this new development tilts the starting QB question remains to be answered by Coach Macihiavelli.
 

Captaincoop

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Seems weird - clearly not vaccinated based on the protocol report.

Doesn't do much for the job as Newton will be back by Thursday for the 2nd day of joint practices.

Cam was "good" in the Philly game but I guess the bar is pretty low. Mac was better
Missing three practices, including a day of joint practice, this late in preseason with a tight competition going on for the starting job - that feels like it could matter.
 

DJnVa

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What medical appointment is he doing out of the area?

[tinfoilhat]BB knew all along what the NFL procedures were...[/tinfoilhat]
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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The ESPN crew, with Steve Young, Randy Moss, Booger and Schefter, was absolutely raving about Cam’s performance the other night. I only saw the highlights which looked … good?

I am not an anti-Cam guy – I really love a lot about him when he is going good and really want him to succeed before handing off to Mac. But I am really struggling to understand why everyone was so ecstatic about this performance given who he was going up against, the fact that it was 9 passes and that he looked like the 2020 Cam the previous week – with the missed passes to Jonnu and the holding the ball too long fumble (Bedard did a pretty good rundown of that).

What am I missing?
Watch Mark's video above that @Super Nomario linked. It highlights some reason for optimism.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I would not predict it to happen but I feel like Patriots Nation is not giving enough consideration to the possibility - even if a relatively small one - that BB is planning to use both Cam and Mac in the same game, not as a "Wow, Cam has been terrible, I guess the Mac Jones era begins now" in-game move but as a change of pace that could catch defenses off guard and give opposing DCs much more to prepare for.

At every position outside of QB, throwing lots of different looks at defenses over the course of a game - whether in terms of personnel, formations, or offensive tempo - has been a cornerstone of the BB offensive strategy for a very long time. With Tom Brady on your team, there just has never been any reason to actually change the QB. But now he has two QBs that are not only probably fairly similar in overall ability, but also completely different in playing style. He has to at least be thinking about it.

One obvious rejoinder is that you then have to split first team practice reps over the course of the week between two QBs, so that you get less practice time. But what if Cam gets 80% of the reps and Mac gets 20% with a limited playbook? And then your plan is to start Cam like everybody expects but to have the Mac card up your sleeve. You let the defense get used to playing against Cam, probably with a lot of heavier defenders on the field, focused on RPO stuff, and then you bring Mac out and spread them out and/or run hurry up, hoping to catch the wrong personnel group on the field or just force the defense to deal with something completely different. And whatever cost you pay by Cam not getting 100% of the practice reps is assumedly balanced by the possibility of going up against a defense that has either not prepared for Mac at all or that has had to prepare for both QBs and therefore had a much tougher job in the film room and on the practice field.

Another possibility rejoinder is that this wouldn't be good for Mac's development. But I actually wonder whether the opposite might be true. This could be a way to give him a more limited playbook and get his feet wet in advantageous situations when the defensive might not be completely prepared or caught off guard.

The simple answer is that this rarely happens in the NFL, so it probably won't happen. But if its going to happen anywhere, it would be with a coach like BB and two quarterbacks like Mac and Cam. Again, I wouldn't bet on it. But at the very least I think its a possibility worth discussing in the long three weeks we have before the season starts.
 

Soxy

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I would not predict it to happen but I feel like Patriots Nation is not giving enough consideration to the possibility - even if a relatively small one - that BB is planning to use both Cam and Mac in the same game, not as a "Wow, Cam has been terrible, I guess the Mac Jones era begins now" in-game move but as a change of pace that could catch defenses off guard and give opposing DCs much more to prepare for.

At every position outside of QB, throwing lots of different looks at defenses over the course of a game - whether in terms of personnel, formations, or offensive tempo - has been a cornerstone of the BB offensive strategy for a very long time. With Tom Brady on your team, there just has never been any reason to actually change the QB. But now he has two QBs that are not only probably fairly similar in overall ability, but also completely different in playing style. He has to at least be thinking about it.

One obvious rejoinder is that you then have to split first team practice reps over the course of the week between two QBs, so that you get less practice time. But what if Cam gets 80% of the reps and Mac gets 20% with a limited playbook? And then your plan is to start Cam like everybody expects but to have the Mac card up your sleeve. You let the defense get used to playing against Cam, probably with a lot of heavier defenders on the field, focused on RPO stuff, and then you bring Mac out and spread them out and/or run hurry up, hoping to catch the wrong personnel group on the field or just force the defense to deal with something completely different. And whatever cost you pay by Cam not getting 100% of the practice reps is assumedly balanced by the possibility of going up against a defense that has either not prepared for Mac at all or that has had to prepare for both QBs and therefore had a much tougher job in the film room and on the practice field.

Another possibility rejoinder is that this wouldn't be good for Mac's development. But I actually wonder whether the opposite might be true. This could be a way to give him a more limited playbook and get his feet wet in advantageous situations when the defensive might not be completely prepared or caught off guard.

The simple answer is that this rarely happens in the NFL, so it probably won't happen. But if its going to happen anywhere, it would be with a coach like BB and two quarterbacks like Mac and Cam. Again, I wouldn't bet on it. But at the very least I think its a possibility worth discussing in the long three weeks we have before the season starts.
Tom E. Curran has been beating this drum for a while. He's even gone so far as to say he'd be surprised if Belichick doesn't play them both in the same games, which is going a bit far and steering directly into hot take territory.

I guess my question would be: how far would they go with this, if this is the route they wanted to take? How would it operate? One guy dominating reps, the other guy sprinkled in? Alternating drives? Treating QB the same as other positions and alternating based on personnel packages and groupings? Are they comfortable with a potential 80/20 split in run/pass based on who is at QB, similar to the RB split they had with Michel/White a couple years ago (which did not seem to bother them at all)?

I tend to think it's like splitting the baby, having your cake and eating it too, etc. Pick your metaphor. All I can think of is that Arrested Development meme where they're like, "It's never worked for anybody, but maybe it could work for us?" I'm not saying it can't work, but seems like it would require successfully threading a lot of needles.

I can probably make an argument that it's still the best option they have, and they may be participating in a sewing circle regardless, at least if they're both on the team, so what's a few more needles to thread? If there were ever a situation where it made sense to try something like that, this is probably it. Still, it's not nothing. You generally want your quarterback to be the head of the snake for good reasons, and that's hard to do if he's sharing time with the head sewn on next to his.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Tom E. Curran has been beating this drum for a while. He's even gone so far as to say he'd be surprised if Belichick doesn't play them both in the same games, which is going a bit far and steering directly into hot take territory.

I guess my question would be: how far would they go with this, if this is the route they wanted to take? How would it operate? One guy dominating reps, the other guy sprinkled in? Alternating drives? Treating QB the same as other positions and alternating based on personnel packages and groupings? Are they comfortable with a potential 80/20 split in run/pass based on who is at QB, similar to the RB split they had with Michel/White a couple years ago (which did not seem to bother them at all)?

I tend to think it's like splitting the baby, having your cake and eating it too, etc. Pick your metaphor. All I can think of is that Arrested Development meme where they're like, "It's never worked for anybody, but maybe it could work for us?" I'm not saying it can't work, but seems like it would require successfully threading a lot of needles.

I can probably make an argument that it's still the best option they have, and they may be participating in a sewing circle regardless, at least if they're both on the team, so what's a few more needles to thread? If there were ever a situation where it made sense to try something like that, this is probably it. Still, it's not nothing. You generally want your quarterback to be the head of the snake for good reasons, and that's hard to do if he's sharing time with the head sewn on next to his.
I don't follow Patriots beat writers very closely and didn't realize this was a Curran obsession.

I think all the questions in the second paragraph are apt and important. My gut instinct is that this would be much easier to pull off with a 80/20 type split, where Cam was the starter and Mac offered a strategic change of pace. That still hews fairly closely to everybody's understanding of how a football team works. A 50/50 split or a situation where either guy could end up with more snaps based on game flow seems like too big a stretch.
 

Kliq

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I get the idea of splitting the reps, but the team has a very limited ceiling with Newton and while Jones' ceiling may be lower, it has the possibility to at least be higher than Cam's and perhaps take the team into the playoffs. It's fun that Cam can run over people for TDs, but the Patriots ranked 24th last year in Red Zone efficiency. He doesn't have the skills to get defenses to think about the pass, so they know they can sell-out on stopping the run every time he is in the game. Perhaps the new TEs and WRs improve that, but I still don't really like it.