No one thought we would see the day that Tom Brady entered a game as a backup quarterback (even if it is the preseason), but that’s what happened against the Panthers on Friday night.
Jimmy Garoppolo, your starting quarterback for the first four weeks, has the biggest shoes of all-time to fill. Through training camp and the first two weeks of the preseason, Garoppolo looked promising. Expectations rose to the point where Garoppolo could win three, maybe all four games to open the season. While that is still possible, it would be largely credited to the Patriots’ impressive defense. But, after seeing Brady enter the game after Garoppolo, we all remembered what we are missing ever so quickly.
First off, everyone knows Garoppolo isn’t going to come in and play like Brady. But, he was expected to come in and play like a starting quarterback—not a backup QB with hardly any regular-season experience.
After Garoppolo’s shaky performance against the Panthers, he brought expectations back down to Earth.
Garoppolo hit Chris Hogan early on, but outside of Hogan he was off the mark with his other targets. Garoppolo nearly threw a pick while targeting Julian Edelman on third down. Then, Garoppolo picked up an intentional grounding penalty because he failed to escape the pocket. Garoppolo will learn from that mistake and recognize that he needs to escape to the left or right to throw the ball away rather than dropping straight back.
One bright spot for Garoppolo was his ability to elude the pass rush and make plays with his feet. Garoppolo bounced off a huge hit and scampered to his left in an impressive evasive maneuver. But, he failed to control the football by holding it high which allowed the player in pursuit to knock the ball free on the tackle. Thankfully, it was not a lost fumble for Garoppolo.
Garoppolo needs to improve on his awareness and composure in moments where the play breaks down. It’s all about finishing plays.
Garoppolo finished the night 9-for-15 for 57 yards and was sacked one time. He looked better in the hurry-up offense. Though, it was not the best night for a player who is trying to build momentum as he takes over the offense for the first four weeks.
Meanwhile, Brady stepped right into the game in mid-season form. Even though Brady finished 3-for-9 for 76 yards, we can chalk up a couple of those incompletions to dropped passes, one of those being to Edelman.
On his completions, Brady hit Aaron Dobson over the middle for a 37-yard gain. Then, he followed up on the next drive with the play of the game. Brady hit Chris Hogan on a 33-yard touchdown pass of total perfection. Brady dropped the ball in on a rope over the defense and Hogan hauled it in over-his-shoulder with ease. It was a perfect throw-and-catch that put Brady’s magic on full display.
Brady also found Edelman for a six-yard out route in typical Brady-to-Edelman fashion.
Brady looked efficient, smart and like the same quarterback we have seen for the last 15 years.
By no means should we be down on Garoppolo. He’s progressing and will hold his own in the regular season. The offensive line is still trying to come together. Also, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola haven’t been on the field with Garoppolo this preseason.
But, watching Brady follow Garoppolo was a not-so-friendly reminder that this offense will not be the same with Garoppolo at the helm.
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