The New England Patriots have not yet announced who will start at quarterback when the 2021 NFL season kicks off Sept. 12 with a Week 1 game against the rival Miami Dolphins.
One former Patriots player thinks the decision is a pretty easy one.
NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison, who played under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for six years and won two Super Bowl titles, sees rookie quarterback Mac Jones as the clear No. 1 choice for the starting job.
"I just think Mac Jones -- he did everything that coach Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels wanted him to do," Harrison said on Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. "He's the perfect quarterback for this system. Why would you wanna go and put Cam Newton -- a guy that's still learning the offense, a guy that's been super inconsistent. This kid, he came out his very first (game action) and he's running the no huddle, hurry-up offense.
"I just think this is the right guy for the job. And it's a no-brainer to me. I don't understand how this could be hard for coach Belichick. I know he has a lot of loyalty to Cam, but at the end of the day, the thing he always preached to us, he said, 'I'm going to do what's best for the team.' In my opinion, what's best for the team is starting Mac Jones and not Cam Newton."
How comfortable would Belichick be trusting and starting a rookie QB? Harrison doesn't think it'll be an issue based on what he's seen from Jones so far.
"If he's watching the same film that I'm watching, I believe he should start (Jones). I think it would be absolutely crazy not to start Mac Jones," Harrison explained. "I just think he's a really good player. They've done a great job surrounding him with talent. The offensive line is one of the top five in the NFL. They got a great defense. You know they're going to have great special teams. And then put that on top of coaching -- it's a no-brainer.
"Why would you want to go back? Plus, you look at Mac Jones, he's young, he's impressionable. You can kind of do what you want with him. With Cam, he's older, he's stuck in his ways and his best days are gone. I say stick with Mac definitely."
Jones outplayed Newton in training camp and the preseason. He was very good in Sunday night's preseason finale, completing 10 of 14 pass attempts for 156 yards and one touchdown against the New York Giants.
It's unknown when Belichick will announce the starting QB for the season opener. He might wait as long as possible to prevent the Dolphins from game-planning around one quarterback.
Jones deserves to start, but we've seen veterans begin the season so often that it wouldn't be surprising if Newton gets the nod Week 1 and the Alabama product replaces him at some point during the season.