Hannable: Jimmy Garoppolo shuts critics up with strong performance in preseason opener

Ryan Hannable
August 11, 2017 - 2:28 am

Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

FOXBORO — He’s not dedicated like he should be... look how he acts after practice!

Why didn’t Bill Belichick trade him this offseason?

We overrated him the last three years!

These have been the prevailing thoughts on Jimmy Garoppolo the last several weeks when it comes to discussing the Patriots, but on Thursday night against the Jaguars in the preseason opener, Garoppolo had a message of his own to those people.

Shut the hell up.

Garoppolo was outstanding against the Jaguars, playing into the third quarter. He went 22-for-28 passing with 235 yards and two touchdowns. He started off slow, but picked up the pace beginning in the second quarter. 

The drive which really kick-started things was the drive to close out the half, which ended with an Austin Carr touchdown on a terrific catch in the back of the end zone. Running the two-minute offense, Garoppolo went 7-for-7 with 62 yards on the drive.

“Definitely a slow start,” he said. “Not the way we wanted it to go at all, but I think [we] just came together, made a couple of adjustments and everything and we went out there and executed, really. I mean, it wasn’t anything special.”

To the surprise of many, including Garoppolo, Belichick sent him back out for the first two drives of the second half. He led the offense on a seven-play, 74-yard drive ending with a five-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Maye to open the third quarter and then an eight-play, 63-yard drive, which ended with a D.J. Foster fumble as the Patriots were nearing the red area. This ended Garoppolo’s night.

On his final three drives, he went 13-for-14 with 168 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad at all.

Looking beyond the box score, his night was even better than it looked. 

Consider who Garoppolo had for targets in the passing game — undrafted rookies Jacob Hollister, Austin Carr and then players like K.J. Maye, Sam Cotton, Devin Lucien and Glenn Gronkowski. The only receivers with any past experience with the system were Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden.

Like Tom Brady has been known for over the years, Garoppolo was able to make the receivers he was playing with better. 

Just look at Carr and Hollister, two undrafted rookies playing in their first NFL game. Hollister led the team wth seven receptions for 116 yards, while Carr added five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown. Although these players played virtually the entire game, most of their production was when Garoppolo was at quarterback.

Not only was Garoppolo working with a thin group of receivers, but also limited protection on the outside of the offensive line. With starting tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon out, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle saw significant time. Both players struggled, consistently getting beat badly leaving Garoppolo to either escape the pocket, or step up to make a throw. 

The quarterback also stood out in the minds of his teammates not only with his play, but as a leader of the offense.

“I can’t say much about comparing him; I’m a rookie,” Carr said. “I don’t know a lot, so I’ll humble myself and say that. But he’s a great leader, and I think that really showed in the second quarter especially. Great communicator on the field, very composed, and I think it showed on the offense.”

Garoppolo’s performance on Thursday night didn’t necessarily come out of no where because everyone had seen what he was capable of last season, but given what had taken place to this point in the summer, it was a big night for No. 10.

Comments ()