This week, the New England Patriots held a three-day mandatory minicamp on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. All eyes were on the quarterbacks. Every reporter present at the minicamp has different stats and completion percentages they kept for different drills. Completion percentages can be a little deceiving. It is important to pay attention to the number of reps a quarterback is getting and who they are getting the reps with.
Stephon Gilmore Absence
There were a few players absent for a variety of reasons. Most notably, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who missed all three days of the mandatory minicamp. On Monday, Head Coach Bill Belichick was asked about some of the Patriots’ absences. He explained the coaches were “scrambling to get things going” and had not taken attendance yet. He also suggested there may have been some issues with “travel arrangements.”
On the second day of the mandatory minicamp, Belichick was asked specifically about Stephon Gilmore. He replied, “I don’t expect him to be here. We’ll just focus on the guys that are here.” Many have speculated Gilmore is holding out for more money.
Day One of Patriots Mandatory Minicamp
It was a rainy Monday in Foxboro for day one of the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp. Everyone knows Bill Belichick loves a rainy practice. The rain introduces a variable that players must adapt to. As expected, some players struggled with the conditions. Tight end Jonnu Smith seemed to struggle the most with a handful of drops and an injured hamstring towards the end of practice. Smith was in attendance for days two and three however he did not practice.
Rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw two interceptions. One was a deflection to linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The other was made by linebacker Dont’a Hightower on a freakishly athletic play. Despite throwing two interceptions, Jones took the second most reps over Jarrett Stidham. Jones was the best quarterback of the day.
Day Two of Patriots Mandatory Minicamp
To start the second day of mandatory minicamp, the quarterbacks started with passing drills. Cam Newton took the first reps, Mac Jones took the second reps, Jarrett Stidham took the third reps, and Brian Hoyer took the rest.
Like the first day, the quarterbacks then moved to three separate fields for seven on sevens drills. Mac Jones was on one field working with the first-team offensive line. Bill Belichick, Ernie Adams, and Matt Patricia were watching Jones with Josh McDaniels coaching.
Cam Newton was on another field working with the second-team offensive line. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer were throwing passes to the tight ends and wide receivers on the third field.
During 11 on 11 drills, Cam Newton took the first three reps. After an incompletion on the third rep, Mac Jones took the next eight reps and seemed to get all the attention from the coaching staff. Newton walked off to the side by himself with his head down. His body language had completely changed. Mac Jones was clearly the best quarterback again on day two of minicamp.
Day Three of Patriots Mandatory Minicamp
Day three was a much lighter practice. It seemed to be more of a review of what the coaching staff had covered in the previous two days. Mac Jones struggled a little whereas Cam Newton had a bounce-back day. Some described it as Newton’s best practice as a New England Patriot. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston said “he was in command, he was accurate, he was decisive. Even his incompletions were on point.”
Takeaways from Mandatory Minicamp
Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal recounted an interesting sequence from the first day of mandatory minicamp on his podcast. The offense appeared to be practicing dummy cadences at half speed. Cam Newton was practicing dummy cadences was an improvement as he did not use them much last season.
When it was Mac Jones’ turn, the offense lined up in a tight formation with two tight ends, two running backs, and a wide receiver. Jones identified the mike (middle linebacker), gave two dummy cadences, and called an audible. He dropped into shotgun and the offense shifted to a four-wide formation with a running back. Jones snapped the ball and beat the blitz.
This sequence was a good example of how quickly Mac Jones has learned the playbook. Jones took the most reps with the ones and had the attention of the entire coaching staff. Contrary to what some believed going into the minicamp, Mac Jones can no longer be ruled out as the Patriots’ week one starting quarterback.
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