Mac Jones takes big strides, Cam Newton shines as Patriots clobber Eagles in preseason

The New England Patriots have to be happy with how their rookie quarterback performed on Thursday night.

Mac Jones looked improved in his second NFL preseason game. The first-round pick took over for Cam Newton in the second quarter, played in four series and looked very good against the Philadelphia Eagles backups.

Jones finished 13-for-19 for 146 yards with a 91.1 quarterback rating. He was even better than those numbers indicate as three of the incomplete passes were dropped and another was a spike to stop the clock.

Overall, Jones helped orchestrate three scoring drives and looked better as the game, won 35-0 by the Patriots, went on.

Jones didn’t have it easy in his first series on Thursday night. That’s what made the performance so impressive. Following a Justin Herron holding penalty, the offense was backed up to the 5-yard line and was faced with a first-and-14. By the time it was third down, the offense gained one yard. On third-and-13, Jones dropped back deep into his own end zone and threw a perfect 19-yard strike to N’Keal Harry to move the chains.

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The next down saw a holding penalty on Korey Cunningham to give the Pats a first-and-20. Jones hit Sony Michel for gains of 7 and 19 yards to move the chains. (Michel certainly deserved the credit for breaking a tackle on the 19-yard gain.) Jones’ next completion was an 8-yard pass to Gunner Olszewski for a first down.

Patriots running backs Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson took over after that. The two backs picked up three first downs and Stevenson finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run at 2:10 of the second quarter. Jones’ 2-point conversion attempt to Devin Asiasi fell incomplete.

The rookie’s first series was a 17-play, 91-yard drive that ate up 9:04. That’s impressive when you remember the unit was faced with a third-and-13 at the 6-yard line.

I’ve been around Mac long enough now to know that’s not really a surprise, Jakobi Meyers told reporters after the game. That’s kind of the expectation I think when they drafted him. He’s definitely met expectations – at least for me… I’m happy to see him go out there and put a good product on the field.

Jones started the next series with a beautiful deep ball to Harry. The pass, which traveled around 50 yards in the air, hit Harry in the hands, but the receiver dropped it. Harry landed hard on his left shoulder and appeared to be hurt after the play. He walked off the field with Patriots trainers and reportedly left for the locker room.

Jones hit J.J. Taylor for an 8-yard gain before spiking the ball in order to set up a Jake Bailey punt. It appeared that Bill Belichick was trying to get his punter some work in before halftime.

Jones came out of the half firing, utilizing the hurry-up offense. This was a very efficient, 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The rookie went 5-for-5 for 54 yards in this series. Jones made two great throws to Gunner Olszewski for 17 and 21 yards. The 21-yarder set up the Pats in a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. Taylor took three handoffs before scoring a 1-yard rushing touchdown at 11:50 of the third quarter.

The first-round pick’s fourth drive was another beauty. Jones orchestrated a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive to extend the Patriots lead to 32-0. Jones was 3-for-5 for 31 yards, but his two incomplete passes were drops by Devin Ross and Devin Asiasi, which should’ve been a touchdown.

He started this drive off with an 8-yard pass to Stevenson and three plays later hit Isaiah Zuber for 12 yards. Jones nearly had a touchdown with a really nice 11-yard strike to Olszewski, but the receiver was stopped at the goal line. Jones’ next pass was dropped by Asiasi in the end zone and Taylor capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run.

That was it for Jones and the Patriots have to be happy with their quarterback play on this night.

Cam Newton also looked phenomenal vs. the Eagles
Cam Newton came out firing on Thursday night and the veteran certainly made a statement in his second preseason game.

The Patriots quarterback played three series, with two full drives, and looked phenomenal. Newton completed 8-of-9 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown to finish with a 151.4 quarterback rating.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Newton got off to a red-hot start. The quarterback’s first three throws resulted in three first downs. Newton hit Jakobi Meyers for 18 yards, Kendrick Bourne for 23 yards and then Meyers again for 10 yards in the Patriots first full drive of the game.

Newton led the offense downfield, going 4-for-5 for 56 yards on this drive. He couldn’t connect with James White on third down and rookie kicker Quinn Nordin missed a 36-yard field goal attempt. However, it was a strong start for Newton, whose first three pass attempts looked great.

That’s one of our keys each and every week – to start fast, Newton told reporters after the game. We had pretty much good field position and we had to uphold our end of the bargain. Coach challenged us in the passing game just to be more efficient. That’s what we just tried to do – throw and catch.

Newton played great in the next series as well, completing all four pass attempts. The quarterback hit White (8 yards) and then Michel for a 7-yard and 4-yard gain. Following three run plays in a row, Newton hit Meyers for a 28-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the first quarter. It was a nice pass and even greater run after the catch as Meyers avoided multiple Eagles defenders en route to the end zone. He gained about 20 yards after the catch to score this touchdown.

Newton’s first series was an easy one. Following a Jalen Mills fumble recovery, it took the Patriots two Damien Harris run plays to get in the end zone. The running back scored a 5-yard touchdown run at 12:54 of the first quarter.

The Eagles rested most of their defensive starters on this night. However, the Pats have to be happy with Newton’s play.

N’Keal Harry suffers apparent shoulder injury
N’Keal Harry has faced some adversity this offseason. The receiver entered training camp after his agent requested a trade. He had some solid moments in practice, but finished the first preseason game with just one catch for 4 yards.

On Thursday night, the adversity continued. Harry appeared to have suffered a shoulder injury after he was unable to corral a deep ball from Mac Jones in the late second quarter.

With 35 seconds left on the clock, Jones threw a beautiful deep ball, which traveled around 50 yards in the air and hit Harry in the hands. The receiver chose to attempt a leaping grab, but you could argue he should’ve attempted to run through the catch. When Harry landed, he fell hard on that left shoulder and was down for several minutes before walking off the field.

Harry then left for the locker room right before half time. After the game, Harry was seen leaving the stadium with his arm in a sling.

Prior to the injury, Harry made a nice grab on a 19-yard pass on a third-and-13 play.

Another injury to monitor is Josh Uche. The linebacker left the field in the field in the first half and didn’t return after halftime.

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