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Overreaction Time in New England Has Started Early

Patriot’s fans don’t always realize just how lucky they have been (me included).

This has led to some crazy moments, including over the past weekend when a considerable number of people called into the local sports radio shows to ask if the Patriots would be better off starting Jacoby Brissett over Jimmy Garoppolo. Every single time I heard this I had to change the radio station. This was all because Jimmy Garoppolo went 9-15 for 57 yards in just a couple quarters of work against one of the best defenses in the NFL, in a preseason game.

Go ahead, read that sentence again. That performance was all Patriots fans needed to throw Jimmy G out the window. That’s what happens after watching the best quarterback in NFL history for 16 years; we’ve entirely forgotten how regular quarterbacks look.

Let’s clear some things up. No, Jimmy Garoppolo certainly did not impress in New England’s third preseason game against the Panthers. He failed to recognize blitzes at times, looked more nervous in the pocket, and made some poor decisions, including throwing the ball right to Luke Kuechly instead of Julian Edelman (which was luckily dropped). However, he did not end up with any turnovers, and was only sacked once (along with one intentional grounding penalty). Based on how the first two preseason games went, I am confident that Garoppolo is more than capable of bouncing back from a slightly-below-average performance. To his credit, Jacoby Brissett did play well, going 9-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown. He looked good in the pocket, and his arm strength was on display again. While I am becoming increasingly impressed with the potential that he is showing, I would not be starting him over Jimmy G anytime soon. There has been rumors that Brissett might start against the Giants in the Patriots last preseason game. I wouldn’t be against this, because it is mostly a throwaway game. But before anyone freaks out, this does NOT mean that Brissett will be starting over Jimmy G week one. 0% chance. Quote me on that.

The Patriots running game looked surprisingly good against a stud Panthers defense. Tyler Gaffney and LeGarrette Blount combined for 15 carries for 61 yards (4.1 yds/carry). While these numbers are not mind blowing, they are much better than the Patriots have had in the recent past, and I believe they are a sign of good things to come. Blount looked agile, including one great play were he hurdled a defender on a 14 yard run, and Gaffney looked strong running and catching the ball. The offensive line also looked good in the run game, with the interior creating some great holes for both Gaffney and Blount. The Patriots will need this aspect of their offense to continue to improve so that they don’t encounter the same issues that they did last year when they were seen as an almost one-dimensional team.

The Patriots defense was the main reason they ended up defeating the Panthers. They limited the reigning NFL MVP, Cam Newton, to just 100 passing yards on 13 completions. They also kept him to just nine rushing yards. Some of this was due to Newton’s poor play, as he looked unsure of himself in the pocket, and was overthrowing every one of his receivers. However, the intensity that the Patriots defense displayed allowed them to control the tempo of the game. Trey Flowers stood out again, with a number of impressive finesse moves at the line of scrimmage. He finished with six tackles, including one sack

One of the biggest things to notice so far about the Patriots defense has been the turnovers they have caused, including one fumble recovery (Jones) and four interceptions (Jones, Harmon, McCourty, Ryan). That will be a big factor going forward, especially during the first four games of the season. They will need to give Jimmy Garoppolo as many chances as they can to score.

I could attempt to preview New England’s fourth preseason game against the Giants, but there isn’t much to say. The starters will play very little, as Bill Belichick will not want to risk more injuries with the regular season fast approaching. The most interesting thing to note will be the battles for the final roster spots. In particular, I will be watching the cornerbacks, defensive linemen, and receivers, as these three groups have significant depth, and players who have impressed throughout the preseason will need to be cut.

*Something to note: Albert Breer of MMQB reported today that the Patriots have been “shopping” Aaron Dobson. This could lead to some interesting developments over the next week, including during the game against the Giants. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Until next time- B$

PS: Tom Brady came into the game against Carolina in the second quarter and looked incredible. He dropped an absolute dime to Chris Hogan for a touchdown. Nothing there is surprising except his willingness to backup Jimmy G. I’m really going to miss him for those first four games.

PSS: Teddy Bridgewater suffered an absolutely brutal injury this week. I was very low on him coming out of the draft, and never thought he would develop into a great quarterback. I have been drastically wrong so far, and I’m really hoping that he has a strong and fast recovery. He’s turning into a great young quarterback and will hopefully be entertaining to watch for years to come.

Brian Cole

Brian Cole

Author ProfootballTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine.com
Expert on all things Deflategate, and New England Patriots Writer for SportsTalkLine.com