Cam Newton and Mac Jones sharing the Patriots QB job? No thanks.


Seemingly forever one of the tried and true if a bit trite clichés of life in the NFL was that if you had two quarterbacks then you really had none.

Hall of Fame coach and famed video game namesake John Madden was credited with the adage, but many a football mind professed it over the years. Or at the very least seemed to live by it.

For good reason, as it’s always been oh so true.
Productive stability at the quarterback position isn’t just desired, it’s a prerequisite to winning.

But, now, the times they are apparently a changing in the world of professional football.

Suddenly from coast to NFL coast there is talk of teams led by really good, really respected Super Bowl-caliber coaches going with a multi-QB approach.

Recently former Patriots edge defender turned ESPN analyst Rob Ninkovich defended the idea, nay guaranteed that both Mac Jones and Cam Newton would have contributing roles on the very much new-look New England offense this season.

Others in the media have subsequently picked up the idea of a platoon or even packages of plays for Newton and run with it like they expect the former NFL MVP to do the running at the goal line.

Jones can supposedly throw. Cam can supposedly still run.
On paper it makes sense and could be a marriage made in complementary winning game plan heaven, right?

Color us dubious.

But Bill Belichick isn’t the only coach overseeing a rookie vs. veteran Super Bowl-losing QB competition who is apparently pondering the possibility of using multiple players at the most singularly important position in all of sports.

Nope, in San Francisco it wasn’t outside voices speculating that both Jimmy Garoppolo and No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance would both be running the 49ers offense this season, it was head coach and respected offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan voicing his plans firsthand.

“Trey's going to play for us this year. I know you guys are all running to Twitter on that," Shanahan told reporters last week, well aware of the reaction his words would incite. "Situationally, he's going to get plays. That doesn't mean that he's going to be the starter or anything, but he's going to get plays and you've got to prepare him for that every way possible."

Not only will the 49ers prepare Lance to play, opponents will have to spend costly, limited preparation time thinking about what the athletic, raw youngster will bring to the field. That, is one argument for teams using multiple guys at the position, certainly a consideration for a no-stone-unturned mind like Belichick. Whether or not the Hoodie would send two different guys out on the field for meaningful reps in a given week – or even put Jones and Newton on the field at the same time – it’s easy to believe Belichick would want opponents to think he might. Remember, Belichick plays chess when most are playing checkers. At least that’s what I’ve always been told.

While Shanahan made his plans clear, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a bit more cautious in his response when asked last week if he could envision using by Newton and Jones regularly in games and game plans in New England.

“I’ve never done that, really. We haven’t even gotten close to that conversation, so I’m not sure about that,” McDaniels replied.

That’s certainly not a hard no.

There are obviously plenty of questions to ponder when considering whether using a so-called two-QB system could be a palatable, productive plan of attack for the Patriots this fall.

Are both quarterbacks equally worthy of playing time? Or, are both simply equally unworthy of all the playing time? Would it be creating a position of complementary strength or simply combined weakness?

Is the temptation of trying to put their polar-opposite skill sets to use potentially clouding sound, seasoned judgement?

Can you really get two quarterbacks ready to play each week at a high level? That's something Belichick declared that he couldn't do back in 2001 when he installed Tom Brady as his starting QB at the cost of any practice reps that might allow Drew Bledsoe to win his job back. This time around Belichick has said he expects the QB competition to be a "hard decision." It is, but one he must make. He can't have it both ways.

Would Newton, known to wear his emotions on his sleeve whether they be positive or negative, even be open to a role as a part-time, situational player? It’s a lot in late-career life that would be basically unprecedented for a former MVP, Super Bowl, No. 1 overall pick QB to take on. Plenty of ego and pride would need to be swallowed by a guy who as recently as this offseason was adamant he was one of the top 32 QBs in the business.

Simply put would playing two QBs be in the best interest of the football team – always the barometer in New England – or simply a move of desperation indicating that Jones isn’t really ready and Newton isn’t really all that much better now than in his dismal first season in Foxborough last fall?

When talking about his defense and mixing up the talent it fielded Belichick once proclaimed that if you have Reggie White, you play Reggie White.
If not, then the implication was that you piece together the talents and skill sets you have the best you can.

Now, apparently, we are learning that the same can be true at the quarterback position. If you have Tom Brady, you play Tom Brady. For 20 years with unparalleled success.

When you don’t, you have to find a way to figure things out at the position just like at any other on the field.

Maybe that’s some combination of both Newton and Jones.

Maybe that’s what the Patriots and 49ers will do in some effort to divide and conquer.

Maybe it will even work.

But if you truly have two of a kind, a pair of quarterbacks even close to equally worthy of playing time yet not head-and-shoulders above the other, then it probably means you don’t really have an ace.

Boom…I agree with Madden.

If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.

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