Does Garoppolo need to play Thursday? ‘It’s not my call,’ he says

Does Garoppolo need to play Thursday? ‘It’s not my call,’ he says

FOXBORO - Hard to put a shine on the clunker that Jimmy Garoppolo submitted Friday night in Carolina. Another red zone interception dropped, a fumble recovered by a teammate and almost half (four) of his nine completions caught behind the line of scrimmage. 

Not exactly what the Patriots were hoping for in the third, and perhaps, last preseason outing for their Week 1 starter. Which raises the question: does Garoppolo need to play Thursday in the Jersey swamp?

“It’s really not my call,” he said. “You always want to be out there with your guys. It’s just the nature of the beast; you’re a competitor, you want to be out there, but whatever Coach [Bill Belichick] asks me to do, I’ll do.”

Were Belichick to decide to keep Garoppolo on ice, that would mean the third-year pro would go 16 days between his ugly appearance in Carolina and opening night at Arizona. That is less than ideal. In fact, it seems like a bad idea for an unproven player in dire need of as many reps as can be afforded him (which is why playing Tom Brady last week still makes no sense in this man’s opinion).

“We have to take that into consideration, too,” admitted Bill Belichick. “Again, whether that overrides something or it doesn’t, we’ll just have to see, but yeah, it’s definitely a consideration.”

“I really don’t even think about it like that, to be honest,” said Garoppolo. “Whatever they ask me to do, they ask me to do. “

Garoppolo insists he found out he was starting against the Panthers with only slightly more lead time than he was given the week prior against Chicago. So, there’s a good chance if he plays this week that he won’t know until the day of, which is certainly an acquired taste.

“At first it was a weird - I can remember back in my rookie year it was a weird thing not knowing,” he said. “You just get used to it after a while, mixing and matching with all the different guys, knowing guys’ tendencies and how they play, and you just react to it, really.”

If Garoppolo does get that chance, the Pats need him to react more decisively and more confidently than his last time out. In a summer of unknowns, that’s one thing we can be sure of.



Five quick thoughts: Dolphins bring the heat to Brady, Patriots


Five quick thoughts: Dolphins bring the heat to Brady, Patriots

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Patriots and Dolphins on Monday night . . . 

1) Might Tom Brady's slow start be attributable to what happened two weeks ago at Gillette Stadium? The Patriots quarterback was hit eight times that day, and he seemed jumpy from the start Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots went three-and-out on their first two drives of the game, and they gained two yards total in the first quarter. Brady was pressured when Lawrence Timmons came in unblocked on the second Patriots play of the game, but he underthrew Brandin Cooks for an interception when he had plenty of time in the pocket. (Brady was picked again by Howard on a slightly underthrown pass to Cooks early in the third quarter. Again, he had plenty of time.) He also missed James White on a relatively easy throw when he really wasn't pressured. Perhaps he sensed Ndamukong Suh coming, but he had time to get off a good throw without being contacted. That kind of misfire could be due in part to what happened when Suh and his teammates were all over Brady in Foxboro late last month. 

2) The Patriots might've regretted not getting Dion Lewis more involved early on. The hottest Patriots back went without a touch from scrimmage in the first quarter. When the team took over possession early in the second, Lewis saw the football on the first two plays of the series and picked up 18 yards. His one-handed catch -- on a tremendous throw from Brady as he was being hit by Kiko Alonso -- later in the second quarter went for 20 yards and helped set up the Patriots for their lone touchdown of the half. 

3) Can't blame the Dolphins for their approach in the passing game through the first two quarters: Find mismatches and take advantage. They were able to do just that by targeting Elandon Roberts in coverage on rookie running back Kenyan Drake. That matchup produced a 13-yard gain in the first quarter. In the second, Drake beat Roberts down the sideline for a 47-yard gain. Roberts also seemed to be the closest defender in coverage on Anthony Fasano when the Dolphins tight end reeled in a 17-yard gain during the same second-quarter drive. Five plays after the long Drake completion, the Dolphins scored on a quick-hitting throw to Jarvis Landry to take a 13-7 lead. 

4) The Dolphins utilized another smart tactic throughout the game, deploying bunch and stack formations for the Patriots to try to cover. Jarvis Landry's third-quarter touchdown came with the Dolphins going to a bunch formation near the goal line. With the Patriots in a true zone, and without a defender "buying" Landry off the snap, he found a soft spot and sat down in it for six. The Patriots had done a fine job of defending bunch sets through the first month of the season -- though they weren't tested nearly as often as expected -- but Monday night seemed to be a step back in that regard. 

5) Late in the third quarter, Patriots safety Duron Harmon laid into his defensive teammates on the sidelines with Matt Patricia standing by. Harmon has been dubbed "The Voice" by teammates this season for his increased role as one of the go-to players to shoulder media responsibilities. He was outspoken when the defense struggled in September, and he clearly wasn't afraid to let his opinions known as the Patriots were plagued by broken coverages and missed tackles in Miami. 

Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night


Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.


Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.