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Cam Newton vs. Mac Jones: How QB battle looks after Week 1 preseason game

We take a look at how Patriots QBs Cam Newton and Mac Jones looked in Week 1 of the NFL preseason and how the depth chart battle is trending.

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass during the first half against Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots opened up the 2021 NFL preseason against the Washington Football Team on Thursday night. A lot of the attention in their preseason opener was focused on quarterbacks Cam Newton and first-round pick Mac Jones.

Newton was under center for the first two offensive drives, which included a scoring drive late in the first quarter. Jones played from the 55 second mark in the first quarter until the fourth quarter in his professional football game.

Week 1 preseason reps, stats

Cam Newton: 4/7, 49 yards

Mac Jones: 13/19, 87 yards

Who has the edge in the QB battle entering Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason?

After one preseason game, it is hard to say who has the edge entering Week 2 because it was the first live game action for everybody involved. As the incumbent, Newton will likely retain the edge because he did not do anything to make you think otherwise. The veteran dual-threat quarterback moved the ball and made the throws he needed to.

The Patriots’ offense is not so much predicated on pushing the ball down the field. It’s more so taking those lay-up throws and being accurate. Newton did that in his two series, despite PFF pointing out that his average depth target was 0.7. But his yards per attempt was 7.0, so you decide which number is better.

Jones was solid in his NFL debut for the Patriots and did what was asked from him. It almost looked like he picked up where he left off at Alabama. The rookie quarterback pushed the ball down the field a couple of times and made some nice short and intermediate throws in front of him. But unlike Newton, he only averaged 4.7 yards per attempt. Jones also showed that he wasn’t scared of the pressure as he stood in the pocket with WFT’s defensive line roaring down on him.

On Friday morning, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Jones’ performance, but he instead pointed out that they needed to play and react fast, per Zack Cox of NESN.

“I think really, it’s pretty much the same for everybody,” Belichick said. “Some good things, so things that we need to — just in general, we need to play faster and react faster. That’s every position across the board. Practice is practice, but things happen at game speed, and that’s something that I would say everyone needs to improve on. Certainly at the quarterback position, but every other position, too.”

Again, it’s still too early to say where Jones is at in this battle — therefore, it is still Newton’s job to lose.