FOXBORO -- The moment the ball left Jimmy Garoppolo’s hand, he knew it was trouble. In fact, even before Nate Ebner made the interception in the back of the end zone, the Patriots backup quarterback was already bending at the waist, before putting his hands on his knees, disappointed in the errant throw. It was another one of those days for Garoppolo, who has been riding the roller coaster a little too often thus far in training camp.
Prior to the session, I asked Bill Belichick if the fourth-year pro had been consistent enough for the coach’s liking.
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“Well, I mean, it’s training camp,” said Belichick. “Look, I don’t think any of us are where we need to be. I mean, we’ve been basically at this for a week, so there are things we all can do better. We all need to do better, starting with me, the coaching staff, every player – experienced, inexperienced, whatever position they play. I mean, we’ve all got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I don’t think anybody’s even close to where they need to be.”
There was a chance for Belichick to dispute some -- if not all -- of what we’ve seen from Garoppolo to this point. He didn’t go that route. Prior to camp starting, Belichick had highlighted the 25-year old’s approach and performance.
“I think Jimmy is consistent day-to-day with his preparation, practice, training habits and so forth,” he said a little over a week ago. “You know what you’re going to get out of him pretty much every day that he walks into the building until he leaves.”
The only consistency this summer has been inconsistency from Garoppolo. Too many throws to the wrong hip or shoulder, or worse yet, to the wrong colored jersey. That not to say there haven’t been good days, or good stretches. On Wednesday, Garoppolo lofted a pretty pass deep down the left sidelines to a well-covered Chris Hogan. A few periods later, he delivered the perfect combination of velocity, touch and accuracy on a ball to undrafted rookie Austin Carr. But, with business this year “different,” as noted by Belichick, it seems fair to wonder if there is a little too much uncertainty surrounding Garoppolo this time around. This is he final year of his rookie deal and there’s the not so small matter of Tom Brady still looking like Tom Brady.
“Well, I don’t think there’s uncertainty about the situation,” said Belichick. “I mean, look, it is what it is. I think he’s talked about it. It’s different than it was last year. Last year was last year. This year is this year. Again, that’s a good example of each year’s a little bit different for all of us in one way or another, no matter how much experience we have. I think he’s trying to make the most of his opportunities, trying to prepare and do the best that he can in the opportunities that he has, like every other player is. It’s different, but at that position, we all know that could change in five minutes. That’s like 2008. It can all change in a hurry. Actually, that’s true at every position, not just that position. It’s true at every position. When Lonie [Paxton] tore his ACL, that changed that in one play. That’s what having a good team is is everybody being ready to go and having depth and being able to handle whatever we have to handle.”
Garoppolo proved well equipped to handle all that was thrown his way once Brady’s suspension officially kicked in. This isn’t that, but it is another test for a player intent on one day being the franchise quarterback, here or somewhere else.