‘Mac’s a baller’: Why Cam Newton believes we haven’t ‘seen the best version of Mac Jones yet’


While Newton is a believer in Jones, he also noted that he has to cut back on throwing interceptions, too.

Cam Newton stood up for the quarterback that replaced him in New England. Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Cam Newton is preaching patience for the man that succeded him in New England.

The former Patriots quarterback still has high hopes for Mac Jones amid the third-year quarterback’s struggles. Appearing on former NFL quarterback and ESPN NFL analyst Robert Griffin III’s “RG3 and the Ones” podcast, Newton shared how he got to know Jones during the few months they spent together ahead of the 2021 season before the veteran was released.

“Man, Mac’s a baller, bro. And I saw this hands-on,” Newton said. “Ultimate worker, ultimate competitor. He got that Alabama in him, so it’s like you can’t crack the code sometimes. You be like, ‘Loosen up, bro. We just trying to be teammates.’ But it is what it is. Now, playing in Boston is a different beast, bro. And I was playing there in the COVID year, so I didn’t even see a crowd most of the time I was there.”

Because of that, Newton thinks Jones can battle back from his rough Week 4 outing and underwhelming play since the start of last season.

“Hearing the sports reporters, the news outlets this and that, man, [Bill] Belichick has been able to manage it the best he knows how,” Newton said. “Does he listen to it? He probably does.

“But at the same time, I don’t think we’ve seen the best version of Mac Jones yet. It’s growing pains, but that ultimately comes down to the coaching staff and what have you.”

Newton’s sharing his belief in Jones came after Griffin asked him if he thought the Patriots starter should be benched. Griffin, who said the Patriots were committing “malpractice” with Jones earlier in the week, agreed with Newton, saying the team is asking too much from him and citing low usage of play-action passes as a pair of reasons.

But both agreed that Jones needs to cut back on the turnovers. He had three in the Patriots’ loss to the Cowboys last week, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. One of those interceptions came on an across-the-field pass, leading to a pick-6 for DaRon Bland. Jones’s fumble led to a scoop-and-score for the Cowboys as well.

“I can just say this for Mac Jones, and being there, I know how much of a point of emphasis it is to protect the football. He has some ugly interceptions,” Newton said. ” … Those are just unforced errors. That was just you knowing better, but you’re still trying to make a play. I was watching the game when they played Philly. He got strip-sacked. He didn’t see it, but just those turnovers. New England, over the decade of winning has always controlled the ball and the turnover ratio.”

Jones has had stretches where he’s been clean with the ball. Late last season, Jones had an eight-game stretch where he only threw one interception before throwing three picks in their season-finale loss to the Bills. He threw an interception in each of the Patriots’ first two games of the season as well, giving him four on the season following Week 4.

Jones has thrown for 898 yards and five touchdowns in addition to the four interceptions, giving him an 80.8 passer rating this season. He has the 11th-worst interception percentage in the league this season, posting a 2.7 interception percentage through the first four games.