December 9, 2023

Mac Jones being named Patriots starter adds even more fuel to Tom Brady’s return to New England in Week 4

3 min read

Did we need any more juice for Tom Brady’s return to Foxborough? Nope. But we sure as hell got some. 

Throughout the summer it seemed as if Cam Newton was destined to be the Patriots starter to begin the year, which included New England’s highly anticipated Week 4 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, that’s when Tom Brady — the quarterback who led the Patriots for 20 years and a record six Super Bowl titles — is set to make his long-awaited return to Gillette Stadium, this time as a visitor. It’s not hyperbole to say that this is the most anticipated regular-season game in the history of the NFL, given that Brady is slated to go head-to-head with his former team and former head coach in Bill Belichick. 

Really, that’s all it was going to be about: Brady vs. Belichick.

With Newton projected to start at quarterback for that game, there was really no added storyline there with the headliner truly being about those two pillars to New England’s dynasty going toe-to-toe. However, now that Newton has been released, first-round rookie Mac Jones has ascended to QB1 and is rocketing towards a showdown with the guy that everyone in New England — fairly or unfairly — will compare him to. 

The main event is still Brady vs. Belichick, but the addition of Jones to this matchup now gives us an undercard that features Patriots past vs. Patriots future. 

Brady will now try to slay his former team as they try to rekindle the magic they enjoyed with him for two decades with a quarterback that stylistically compares quite similarly to him. Meanwhile, Jones will now have the daunting task — to put it lightly — of not only trying to lead this Patriots team through his rookie season but almost instantly be called upon to match the greatest player to ever put on the uniform he’ll be sporting that day within the first month of the year. Welcome to the NFL, rookie. 

To pour even more fuel onto this game is the fact that Patriots star corner Stephon Gilmore has been placed on the physically unable to perform list to begin the year, meaning he’ll miss this showdown with his former teammate in Brady. That could be of special significance if Brady is eyeing to pass Drew Brees for the NFL’s all-time passing yards record against his former team. Brady is just 1,154 yards behind Brees and would need to average 288.5 yards through the first month to break it in Foxborough. That’s entirely doable, especially if New England is without its All-Pro corner. 

To recap, here are some of the storylines we’ll get to digest in this epic showdown:

  • Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick
  • Tom Brady returning to Foxborough as a Super Bowl champion with the Bucs
  • Tom Brady (past) vs. Mac Jones (future)
  • Tom Brady possibly becoming the NFL’s all-time leading passer vs. his former team 

If it wasn’t already apparent, you’ll want to give this game a gander. 

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What does Cam Newton’s release and Mac Jones’ promotion mean for the rest of the Patriots’ players? Download the CBS Sports app to find out! Plus, get insight from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to pick the Patriots as your favorite team for up-to-the-minute news.