It was only one preseason game, but the New England Patriots backup quarterback race is being led by second-round draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo. On Thursday night, the rookie gave Patriots fans more to rave about than fourth-year quarterback Ryan Mallett has in his three years combined. It doesn’t mean Garoppolo will end up being out Mallet, but it does show the progress he has made.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has highlighted the progress. According to a report by Comcast Sport Net’s Phil Perry Friday, Belichick isn’t shocked by Garoppolo’s performance. As all reports indicated that the rookie has struggled his way through training camp practice sessions, Garoppolo showed flash and a sense of poise in his first preseason game. He went 9-for-13 for 157 yards and one touchdown against the Redskins in a 23-6 loss. Though he is expected to go through struggles, Garoppolo outshined Mallett in overall performance.
Belichick noted that Garoppolo is just a young player getting better. He said following the game, “Part of practice, as we all know is learning, improving and doing it better the next time. Particularly young players, just because they made a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean those mistakes will continue and always be there. You’d like to think that some of them will be corrected in the second or next time those situations occur, that the reactions or execution will be better. We see that with pretty much every young player, including [Garoppolo].”
Belichick went on to mention that Garoppolo still made mistakes in Thursday night’s game, but with the way Mallett struggled, those mistakes seemed minimal as Garoppolo was finally able to get the offense moving. He teamed up with receiver Brian Tyms on a couple of deep passes and looked very confident and comfortable doing so. Overall, the coaching staff has to be pleased with Garoppolo’s show of improvement and equally disappointed in what Mallett showed. It is just one game, but it has to be a wake up call for Mallett who connected on just 5 of 12 passing attempts for 55 yards.
Either quarterback had the luxury of playing with the team’s offensive starters. Rob Gronkowski didn’t make the trip and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola also sat the game out. If fairness to Mallett, he did see his work come against the Washington Redskins starting defense.