For now, all the talk in New England is about Tom Brady and his four-game suspension to start the season. Eventually, the focus will begin to shift to Jimmy Garoppolo, who is expected to start in Brady’s absence.
Garoppolo, whom the Patriots chose in the second round of last year’s draft, appears to be the Week One starter by default. The only other quarterback on the Patriots’ roster, Matt Flynn, opened camp on the non-football injury list, so at the moment Garoppolo doesn’t even have any competition for the role of Brady’s replacement.
So far we haven’t seen enough of Garoppolo to know what kind of quarterback he’ll be. The best-case scenario for the Patriots is that Garoppolo is that he’s grown a lot during his first full NFL offseason, just as Brady did in 2011: Brady was lauded by teammates for improving significantly during the offseason after his rookie year, and he ended up leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl when he was called upon to fill in for Drew Bledsoe.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked today about whether Garoppolo has shown improvement during minicamps, but Belichick was characteristically tight-lipped.
“Spring camps are teaching camps, so we got a lot of reps for everybody,” Belichick said. “I think we taught a lot of football and now we have to go out and practice it on an individual basis and then eventually we get to pads, on a padded level, where the timing and execution is a little bit different and start to build into the things that are situationally that we didn’t do as much of in the spring.”
Asked again about whether Garoppolo specifically improved in the spring, Belichick again answered only about the team generally.
“I think everybody learned a lot in the spring,” Belichick said. “I think the rookies learned a lot. I think the veterans learned a lot. It’s the start of a season. It’s a preparation for training camp. Now is when we really get to go out there and execute and work on it at a higher tempo and higher level.”
The Patriots need Garoppolo to show he can play at a high level for the four games when he takes over for Brady on September 10 against the Steelers.