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.