Jimmy Garoppolo fills in for Tom Brady, earns nod from Patriots

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Jimmy Garoppolo fills in for Tom Brady, earns nod from Patriots

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady missed two practices last week and was limited for one other, leaving Jimmy Garoppolo to pick up the slack at quarterback. There was no one else. 

With no other passers on the active roster or the 10-man practice squad -- they released Taylor Heinicke from the p-squad earlier this month -- Garoppolo garnered reps as both the starter and the scout-team quarterback with Brady out. His efforts to make the most of those extra snaps earned Garoppolo some recognition from the Patriots as one of the team's practice players of the week last week. 

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Others named practice players of the week were offensive lineman Ted Karras, practice-squad defensive backs Damarius Travis and David Jones, and practice squad defensive lineman Angelo Blackson. 

Players can earn the player-of-the-week honor for any number of reasons. They may have been given the assignment of mimicking a key player from that week's opponent. They may have gone above and beyond in some fashion in order to make their on-the-field work stand out. Or, as was seemingly the case with Garoppolo, they may have seen their workload increase and managed it well.

Last week's practices may have also served a purpose beyond preparing the team for the Jets. It would have given the Patriots staff yet another extended look at Garoppolo and how he handles the offense when it's his to run. They obviously know him well, but any opportunity to see him as the guy may in some small way re-affirm their feelings on his ability to one day serve as the franchise's next starter. 

Whether it plays out that way or not is a separate story. But judging by the coaching staff's decision to award him in some small way for his work, the volume of snaps Garoppolo saw last week didn't go unappreciated.

There's a rush on Should-They-Trade-Jimmy-G? questions

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There's a rush on Should-They-Trade-Jimmy-G? questions

FOXBORO -- Every Friday we take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it. 

Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. 

What’s up, Jim …

I’d have to peg that possibility as low for three reasons. One, the reasons the Patriots kept Garoppolo in the first place – he’s real good, he’s tremendous insurance, the team keeps its future options open at the position. Two, it would be selling really, really, really low on an asset that they were offered more for previously and (if they franchise him in March) may be again. Three, while the pocket pressure isn’t there, they keep dealing with slippery people like Alex Smith, Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton and (to a lesser degree) Jameis Winston that they don’t usually sellout to get on the ground. In other words, I’m not sure they’d agree their pass rush sucks.

SHHHHHHHHHHIMMMMMMONNNNNN. What’s up? No. No. A thousand times no.

Hey Vyas,

Three prime candidates are Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin and Vincent Valentine. We discussed on the pod Thursday night
 

Interesting questions, Jorge. Alan Branch is a prime candidate. Garoppolo if the trade partner agrees to send back 25 percent ownership stake in the franchise and a new golf cart for the Family Kraft. Malcolm Butler. I would peg the latter two as unlikely in the extreme.
 

Ohhh, Andy.

Absolutely. The same five guys won a gottdamm Super Bowl in February. The parts around that group, the playcalling, the week-to-week matchups and challenges are all a bit different and you hope they get it fixed before Brady breaks but they will improve. They always do.

IRONHEAD!

I’m totally and completely flummoxed by his inability to contribute anywhere. Or for the Patriots to not look to him for contributions. Clearly, with the signing of Will Tye to the practice squad, the clock’s ticking on Allen now. He’s not even Scott Chandler-level. Chandler was kind of hurt and he at least got targets that he then screwed up. Allen’s not even getting that.

Hey, Pat. Tye is on the practice squad for now so he's not changing anyone's role on the 53-man roster. And I don't think his addition to the roster has much to do with what the Jets are doing. They have five games and four preseason games with new offensive coordinator John Morton under their belts. Morton comes from New Orleans, an offense the Patriots are very familiar with working closely with Sean Payton so frequently in training camps in recent years. So Tye isn't going to provide game-changing intel, I don't think. I do believe that the Patriots could use an extra body at the position with Rob Gronkowski banged up and Dwayne Allen scuffling. Tye is experienced and could realistically contribute in game action if he's able to pick up the offense. That's not always the case with practice-squad additions. 

Kevin. Interesting question. I hadn’t even thought of that. No.

Doc! The only person they have who opens up quickly and with regularity between the hashes is Amendola. White is a solid secondary outlet. But with no Edelman, and Cooks and Hogan to a lesser degree being more vertical receivers than horizontal, some of what you’ve seen you’ll keep seeing. Pats didn’t hesitate to use Gronk as a pass blocker earlier in the year and I’m sure we’ll see more until the tackles stabilize. 

 

I read things this week reflecting both views. In my unlearned opinion, he seems like a guy who was doing business as business was done back in 1492. Now, 550 years later, the things he’s blamed and credited for are seen in a context Chris, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella didn’t contemplate. If they had better foresight, they would have understood the hell they’d catch in the 21st century.
https://twitter.com/powhitekid1/status/918678099960782848
Either. But both must be frozen.

Hey, Bob. The draft capital lost because of Deflategate was significant, obviously. In theory, they're without at least two roster-quality players, and potentially more based on whether or not the Patriots would have been able to turn those two picks into multiple selections. We did this at the time of the 2016 and 2017 drafts, but just as a reminder, here are the players who went in the range of the No. 28 overall pick in 2016 and the No.118 overall pick in 2017. (It looked like the Patriots would initially lose No. 132 in 2017, but they picked up a higher fourth-rounder in the Brandin Cooks trade and were docked that pick instead.) Had the Patriots held onto the No. 28 pick last year, they would have had the opportunity to add any number of talented players to their defensive front seven. Defensive tackle Chris Jones (No. 37 to the Chiefs), linebacker Myles Jack (No. 36 to the Jaguars) would have been particularly intriguing fits because of their NFL-ready athletic ability. Later in that year's draft the Patriots took tackle Vincent Valentine and linebacker Elandon Roberts so those were positions they were interested in. If they decided to go with a corner, offensive lineman or quarterback -- the three positions the Patriots spent their first three picks on in 2016 -- what's interesting is that there weren't many impact players taken at those spots between picks No. 28 and No. 60, where they drafted Cyrus Jones. Christian Hackenberg was the only quarterback taken in that range. Xavien Howard, Mackensie Alexander and TJ Green were the corners to go in that area. Nick Martin and Cody Whitehair were the interior offensive linemen. As for what they might've missed out on at No. 188 this year? That's where the Eagles took receiver and special-teamer Mack Hollins. Bears running back Tarik Cohen went one pick later. The Patriots scooped up Deatrich Wise later in the round. 

Thanks for checking in, Tucker! It feels like we're wondering every week if THIS WILL BE THE WEEK THEY UNLEASH THE LEWIS. I wouldn't expect a drastic change in his role for a few reasons. It's been pretty apparent that he's one of their most dynamic backs. He's able to make something out of nothing better than any other player they have at the position. Yet for all the production he's had in 64 snaps (six missed tackles forced on 19 attempts), his workload hasn't changed all that much. His snap counts over five games look like this: 6, 14, 12, 14, 18. He had a season-high seven carries in Tampa, but I'm not sure if that number will rise soon. Rex Burkhead could be back, which could sap a portion of Lewis' workload, and it seems as though the Patriots want to try to manage Lewis to be as healthy as possible for the stretch run. His injury history is what it is, and if he could be a full-go in December and January, he could be a game-changer. The other thing to remember is the offense has been very efficient even with Lewis playing less than a full-time role. Their hand isn't exactly being forced at the moment.  

Want to thank the JPR for this contribution. I put some thought into this. I'm a hard "h" guy when I say the word "historian." (As opposed to "isstorian.") So I'd go with the radio host there. "A historian." Think if you're going "an isstorian" you're trying too hard. Know your concern level might now be through the roof, but you've kind of brought this upon yourself. Stop trying so hard. 

Mr. Q! They've spent a good deal on defensive personnel, depending on where you look. Stephon Gilmore is an obvious example. Devin McCourty was the highest-paid player at his position when he re-signed. Jerod Mayo got paid. Darrelle Revis got paid for one year. They've spent a good number of their first-round picks (who don't make as much as they used to but still get paid) recently on defensive players like Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown. I think they try to be smart with where they spend at every position. Don't think there's a specific budget for the defensive side versus the offensive side. As far as the bend-don't-break idea goes, I think that's more strategic than anything else. I think no matter the price of the personnel they have, if they can force offenses to sustain drives and come away with field goals instead of touchdowns, that's a plan they'd be OK with.

What do mean, Nick? On Twitter? Pshh. Never seen anything too . . . 

. . . Oh. 

Fast Eddy, I think we sniffed out the limitations Harris during that telling week of joint practices with the Texans. Didn’t matter which player got isolated on Harris in space, the veteran linebacker couldn’t keep up. Now he seems like a “break in case of emergency” type player. I’m not sure I see the value there, but they did pay him a million and a quarter in guaranteed dollars and maybe Belichick is seeing value in his leadership. Will be interesting to see who loses spots when two of the injured three (McClellin, Valentine, Mitchell) are able (if able?) to return. I’d put him at the head of the chopping block list.

Michael, this idea has been kicked around a lot and Lewis would certainly like more carries. He’s got some incentives in this, the final year of his contract that he’s now unlikely to reach. But with the injury to Burkhead, and even back to this summer with Edelman, the Pats are loathe to surrender a playmaker, even if this one doesn’t play all that much. Additionally, I don’t think you’re getting anything of value back for him. He’s more valuable here, doing what he’s doing, than a pick or back end of the roster guy.

Mix Master Marx (I just made that up), they couldn’t cover running backs when Collins was here either. I mean, he was athletic enough to do it and certainly flashed at times, but consistency was never his thing. With the speed of some of these so-called pass catching backs, the better matchup is a defensive back and we’ve certainly seen the Pats deploy six and sometimes seven DBs to protect themselves in that regard.

Not an unreasonable ask and something the Pats have done before, including versus the Texans on the game-winning drive (well on at least one of those plays. He also aided Cannon). But he’s still one of best receivers and a trusted guy for Brady. Can’t keep him in there forever. Pick your spots and move on, hoping Solder can get past his early season struggles.

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Dwayne Allen is not getting cut, IMO. It hasn’t been great, but prior to Tampa, I didn’t think he was completely lost as a blocker. Anyway, it hasn’t been the greatest stretch of dealing for or signing NFL vets - Kony Ealy, Allen, Gilmore, Hit or Miss Marsh. As for Dorsett, one Pats wideout told me “he gets it” and there’s “ a lot of talent there we just haven’t gotten to see just yet.” I’ll take that man at his word. 9 Tailors can save almost anyone, even Tanguay. 

Friday Bag: Malcolm's in the middle of a confidence crisis

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Friday Bag: Malcolm's in the middle of a confidence crisis

FOXBORO -- Every Friday we take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it. 

Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, have at the Patriots vs. Patriots South edition of the Bag . . .

Pete! What I see is a player who’s playing equal to -- if not better -- than the guy on the other side, Stephon Gilmore. I see the same passion I’ve always seen. I’ve seen the same willingness to stick his nose up in there on running plays. I see the same quickness. What’s missing may just be confidence. I think Malcolm lost it somewhere during the course of training camp -- I think it was that week in West Virginia with the Texans -- and he’s still struggling to get it back. He said all the right things yesterday. He’ll get plenty of snaps Sunday. Let’s see what it looks like.

Hey, Chris. Thanks for chipping in. My thoughts on Wise are well-documented, so in response to your question? What do I think that teams are game-planning around him? Smart. It's a small sample, but he already has seven total quarterback pressures (two sacks, four more quarterback hits, one hurry), which is one more than Clay Matthews, the same number as Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, and one fewer than Oakland's Khalil Mack. He's not at the level of those players yet, but if you're a coach and you're ignoring that kind of production through a couple of games . . . that's on you. I think his length, the leverage he uses as a pass-rusher and his relentlessness should only continue to lead to more results. It looks to me that the Patriots have found a solid No. 2 to pair with Trey Flowers. Somewhere, Arkansas coach Brett Bielema is smiling.

Dave. Davey. David. Little premature, no? Solder missed all of the preseason, so the way I look at his play now is just that: It’s the preseason. He’s going to have to adjust to the speed and he’s going to have to make modifications to his technique. If this is still going on in a couple weeks, then the Pats may have a problem. It’s just too soon for me to go there now. 



Unless the Seahawks fall out of contention, I'd find it really hard to believe that they'd deal Graham during the season -- especially to another contender. Never say never with the Patriots, but the base salary ($7.9 million) and the cap hit ($10 million) also seem like non-starters to me. Then there's the scheme fit. Graham's talented, no doubt. But he might have to be used in more of a receiver role here in New England. He's improved as a blocker, but he still seems to fit the profile of a big wideout than a true tight end.

Vincent, the kid wants to play. I’d like to see him play. 



I'm still going wide receiver, John. I think Rob Gronkowski will lead the team in touchdown receptions by season's end, but I'm not sure he gets much help adding to that number from his fellow tight ends. Between Cooks, Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Amendola (who has been used extensively in the red zone the last few years) and Malcolm Mitchell if/when he returns, that group should still lead the pack.

Jacob, they should. It’s a no-brainer. We talked about it all summer, even after the Edelman injury. But then what did they do Week 1? The only sense it made was that Amendola was the one player creating real separation that night, but too bad. Come up with a better plan. Create more opportunities for the backs. That’s what they did in New Orleans. Hopefully they’ve learned their listen. Save that guy for January.



It's still very early in Dorsett's Patriots career, obviously, so I think it's hard to try to extrapolate what he's done in two weeks and say, "THIS is who he is." However, in my time talking to him since he's arrived, I'll say that he's struck me as someone who has worked diligently off the field to make sure he's up on everything he needs to be up on. Living at a hotel. Nose in the playbook. His best fit in this offense would seem to be in a Cooksian role, at the "X." He and Brandin Cooks are very similar in terms of their body types and athletic skill sets. I was interested to hear Tony Romo's take during the Saints game, when he said he thinks Dorsett might have a little more "wiggle" than Cooks. Maybe that leads to more work in the slot, where short-area quickness is paramount, but right now he looks like an outside-the-numbers guy with the ability to be a little bit of a gadget player -- jet-sweeps, some work out of the backfield -- due to his speed.

Yes, I do. It would appear as if that troublesome knee, one that gave him trouble back in college, is going to remain an issue for Mitchell as a professional. They could use him going forward. He works the boundary better than any player on the roster.



The Patriots could try to go heavy and run the ball. If Cameron Fleming is out there at right tackle, that would make sense as he looks to me like a superior run-blocker than pass-blocker. However, I think the plan is going to be similar to the one they used in last year's divisional round. I anticipate the Texans will load up the short-to-intermediate range of the field with defenders and force the Patriots to go outside and deep. It won't look pretty, but the Patriots will take what they're given. Expect a bunch of targets for Cooks, Dorsett, and possibly Gronkowski outside the numbers. Brady had a rough day against Houston in January, but was able to pick up yards with chunk plays and I think he'll have to do the same again this weekend.

See the above, Steven! And if you're interested in a little more detail about why this Texans defense is such a difficult matchup for the Patriots, both Tom E. and I have you covered. Curran wrote about why the Texans have the "blueprint" to make life tough on the Patriots. I took an in-depth look at one of Houston's toughest defensive packages, which we should see plenty on third down. 

I’d rather freeze my nuts off, Gary.