FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton said rookie Mac Jones is so quiet at times that he tries to crack “the Da Vinci Code of the seriousness,” but that didn’t stop Jones from seeking Newton out before Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Washington Football Team.
“He came and talked to me, and we talked it out about just his expectation. Every young quarterback goes through it — the excitement, the anticipation,” Newton relayed after the Patriots’ 22-13 win at Gillette Stadium. “He wants to be so perfect, and I see his preparation is always pristine. That’s what I admire about him.”
Jones relieved Newton after two series on Thursday night, receiving a standing ovation from many in attendance when he took the field with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
He played five series and went 13-of-19 passing for 87 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The first series came behind the team’s first-unit offensive line, an indication of how the coaching staff views his progress to date.
The Patriots scored two field goals while Jones was at quarterback, although there easily could have been one touchdown. Arguably his best throw of the night was one of his incompletions, a deep 34-yard pass down the left sideline on his first drive that went off receiver Kristian Wilkerson’s hands in the end zone.
“It was a great ball by Mac,” Wilkerson said. “I have just to adjust better to it [and] do my part.”
Coach Bill Belichick also had Jones run the no-huddle offense to open the third quarter, explaining that the team didn’t get the ball late in the second quarter to set up that type of situation. Jones directed a 13-play, 53-yard drive that culminated in a 40-yard field goal.
Of Jones’ overall performance commanding the offense, Belichick said: “Some good things, some things we can improve on. That’s true for everybody.”
Patriots fans showered Jones with applause, with some starting a chant in the stadium hoping he would reenter the game late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, teammates have noted the strides he’s making — on and off the field.
“He’s working, learning from everybody, attacking it,” veteran running back James White said. “It’s not easy being a quarterback in this league.”
“It definitely seemed like he had some poise when he went out there,” added linebacker Josh Uche.
The Patriots now begin preparations for their second preseason game, next Thursday in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The teams will hold two days of practices together on Monday and Tuesday.
Newton, in his 11th NFL season, looked forward to turning the page with the first-round draft pick from Alabama.
“Everybody learns different, but he’s just going to keep getting better, and we’re going to be here for each other along this whole process,” Newton said.