Former Pats exec gives interesting take on Mac Jones winning QB battle


Mac Jones seemed like a good bet to play in a bunch of games during the 2021 NFL season regardless of whether he was the New England Patriots' Week 1 starter.

But how surprising is it that Jones impressed so much in training camp and the preseason that head coach Bill Belichick decided to make him the starting quarterback to begin the season?

Breer: NFL 'uniformly impressed' with Mac Jones in preseason

One former Patriots executive, Mike Lombardi, talked about that topic (and others) during an appearance Tuesday on the "Pat McAfee Show".

“Did (Belichick) think that Mac would come along this quickly? Obviously, I don’t think that’s true," Lombardi said. "I think he felt like Cam could get them through. Now, I do know that in 2022, they felt really good that Mac Jones would be the starter based on what they saw, but this kid kind of has developed. This is why I kinda thought Mac Jones would've been the No. 3 pick over Trey Lance, because (Jones) was ready to play. I thought he was more ready to play than anyone in the draft. And he fit what (49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan) does. And then he slips to No. 15 and the Patriots get lucky. 

"I do think they moved quicker than they anticipated. I don't think they wanted to do this. They guaranteed $3.5 million to Cam, but they had to make this decision because this is basically the best player who won the job."


Patriots Talk Podcast: Not hard to understand why Jones is in, Newton is out | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

What are the other factors that go into deciding the starting quarterback? Lombardi provided some interesting insight on how the other players in the locker room view/impact these key decisions.

“I think it’s been organic, but look, let’s face it, Cam is a natural born leader and so is Mac Jones," Lombardi said. "But Mac’s ability to win over his teammates, Mac’s ability to resonate -- you never make a quarterback shift this dramatic unless the team really believes in the guy that you go with.

"This is not Belichick making a decision or Josh McDaniels. This is the team sees it. And you can’t fool the team. The team knows who the best players are. They know who should be playing quarterback, particularly, because they are at every practice. They watch every throw. They see the team being led.

"This was a situation where it became crystal clear and obvious, particularly after the five days against the Giants where he was really good. And then in the preseason game against the Giants where he was really good that Belichick was probably forced to make a decision.”

Jones showed tremendous poise, throwing accuracy and leadership in camp practices and the preseason games. His command of the offense was better than any other rookie QB in the 20 years that Belichick has been the team's head coach. He was without a doubt the best quarterback in the competition against veteran Cam Newton. 

The challenge for Jones over the next two weeks is continuing to learn the offense, improving his chemistry with the skill position players and preparing for a not-so-easy Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.