Patriots

Garoppolo: Strong preseason showing 'wasn't anything special'

Garoppolo: Strong preseason showing 'wasn't anything special'

FOXBORO - It must have been a relief.

Jimmy Garoppolo rolled to his right, completed a pass, and fell to the turf on his right shoulder. Then he got up.:

JAGUARS 31, PATRIOTS 24

The play, which occurred in the second quarter of the Patriots preseason opener against Jacksonville, was nearly identical to the one in Week 2 last season that ended what was supposed to be his four-game audition as a starter.

There was one important distinction between the two plays: No one drove Garoppolo into the Gillette Stadium surface the way Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso did about 11 months ago. Still, Garoppolo flashed back to that game and that moment as he picked himself up off the ground to face the Jaguars defense for another down Thursday night.

"I actually, as I popped up from it, we completed it and I actually thought about that," he said. "So, yeah, just kind of a confidence boost, but just making sure the shoulder’s all good. It felt good tonight."

It showed. He went 15-for-18 from that point on with two touchdowns, and he finished the game 22-for-28 for 235 yards and no interceptions.

He was accurate. He made good decisions. He ran a clean operation, particularly during a well-oiled two-minute drill to end the first half. And he bounced back from two big hits from Jags defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on New England's first two drives of the game.

"As a quarterback, you’re in the red jersey all practice, so getting that first hit out of the way – I know it sounds weird – but it’s a nice feeling," Garoppolo said. "Take the hit and bounce back from it. You know, I think the O-line did a great job. I messed up a couple times with them and hurt them, but overall, those guys did a real good job up front."

For the better part of the past two weeks, Garoppolo was less-than-stellar in Patriots training camp practice. He readily admitted it. He readily acknowledged that this has now been a trend for just about each of the past four summers.

He's not sure why.

"It’s not on purpose," he insisted Thursday. "I don’t know. I try to go out there and practice well every day with the guys. I mean, you’re trying different things in practice sometimes. You’re working with different guys. But, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s really a rhyme or reason to it. It’s football at the end of the day."

Garoppolo smiled as he spoke. He didn't seem like a player who needed a well-played preseason game to feel good about himself. After two weeks of at-times strange practice performances, two weeks of talking heads wondering what was up with his, he did not appear overly satisfied by what he'd done.

His night probably went about how he hoped it would. It sounded like it went about how he expected it would.

"We went out there and executed, really," he said of his second quarter. "I mean, it wasn’t anything special."

There was no relief in his voice, and in that way, he's been consistent. Even with alarm bells going off around him since camp began, he has never seemed concerned. Probably because he knows who he is, in the same way, his team does.

Bill Belichick about to make Patriots pay for lackluster play in two consecutive losses

Bill Belichick about to make Patriots pay for lackluster play in two consecutive losses

This will not stand. 

Bill Belichick isn’t going to watch good players playing badly on Sunday night and shrug.

He’s not going to hear about Rob Gronkowski answering a question about offseason machinations after a convincing loss on the road and not react, no matter how honestly and timely (thanks to a Sunday morning report from ESPN) the answer may have been.

He’s not going to respond to Chris Gronkowski’s morning tell-all on WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan by putting his hands up and saying, “Family . . . what can ya do?”

You know how Belichick has said in the past that you’d rather be early than late personnel-wise? Same thing goes with grabbing a team by the scruff of its neck when it’s performing like these Patriots are and making completely preventable mistakes. Or giving us media jackals content.

Sunday night, we saw Shaq Mason get destroyed on a third-and-one by Ricky Jean-Francois, resulting in a one-yard loss and the Patriots third straight three-and-out. Mason didn’t seem to know the snap count.

We saw tight end Dwayne Allen get rolled by a defensive back on a third-and-one that ended up losing two.

We saw Duron Harmon let Marvin Jones traipse through the secondary uncovered for a touchdown.

We saw Dont’a Hightower get cleared out of holes with stunning ease.

We didn’t see any real resistance from Malcom Brown on the defensive line.

The Patriots have played two non-competitive performances on the road and have an upcoming game against a 3-0 team. Belichick knows the Dolphins aren’t going to look at the tape of those games and say, “Ohhhh, they’re just a play away on offense and the outcome would be so different . . . ” Miami will look at the tape and see a team ripe for the picking on both sides.

For a long time, Bill Belichick has been doing what he’s doing better than anyone who’s ever done it.

The “why” of the Patriots struggles doesn’t really matter right now.

Sony Michel’s running the ball so much because Dion Lewis left, Jeremy Hill got hurt and Mike Gillislee got cut? So?

Tom Brady’s throwing punts because Danny Amendola left, Brandin Cooks got traded and Julian Edelman got suspended? So?

The defense is slow because no linebacker speed was imported or drafted? So?

Gronk’s still miffed and his family is even miffeder? Get over it.

Gronk got fined in 2017 for carrying Brandin Cooks off the field after a touchdown. So which is more incendiary to the head coach, a piggy-back ride or Chris Gronkowski seemingly speaking for his brother and lacerating the offensive talent? Even though there wasn’t a false word in what Chris said, I would imagine Belichick won’t care about that either.

I don’t know if we’ll see the fallout in the form of reduced playing time or benchings. But on the field and off, based on years of prior observation, it feels like the stuff is threatening to hit the fan.

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Will Josh Gordon quick learn Patriots system? Josh McDaniels says yes, Tom Brady not so sure

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USA Today Sports Photo

Will Josh Gordon quick learn Patriots system? Josh McDaniels says yes, Tom Brady not so sure

One week after it was announced that the Patriots acquired Josh Gordon in a trade, Tom Brady is still not ready to pin his hopes on the new guy. 

Brady spoke to Jim Gray during Westwood One's Monday Night Football broadcast less than 24 hours after falling to the Lions -- a game where the Patriots could've used some receiver help.

"I'm not gonna make any projections or expectations," Brady said when asked about Gordon. "I just met him a week ago. He's working to learn. He's working to [learn] how we do things. Whenever he's back healthy and out there, that's when we get to work and see what we're all capable of when we're out there. It's just a work in progress. We're working through a lot of things."

Gordon was limited in practices last week with a hamstring injury. He was ruled inactive before Sunday night's game in Detroit, watching from the sidelines as Brady was able to complete just 14 of 26 passes for 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said in a conference call on Monday that he wasn't concerned about Gordon's ability to figure out what exactly the Patriots are doing offensively, even though he's new to the building. 

"I’m not worried at all about Josh’s ability to pick up our system," McDaniels explained. "He’s already demonstrated an ability to do that. I think he’ll be fine, and the guys we have are doing the same thing. They’re working hard each week, and we have enough variance in our system to tweak it based on the opponent that we play and that’s our job."

If Gordon can get involved, it might help relax some of the double-teams that have faced Rob Gronkowski through three weeks of the regular season and bogged down the Patriots passing game.