By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The fourth preseason game is often used as an opportunity for the players at the bottom of the depth chart to fight for jobs. But in Thursday’s preseason finale for the New England Patriots, it seems as though their Hall of Fame quarterback may be taking a few snaps.
According to CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran, the Patriots will be bringing all three quarterbacks with them to New Jersey for Thursday night’s game vs. the New York Giants.
There’s no report yet on what that means for playing time, but it stands to reason that if Brady were not going to play, he wouldn’t be making the trip. Considering Brady will be out for Weeks 1-4 of the regular season and thus unable to lend advice to fill-in starter Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie backup Jacoby Brissett, it would figure to serve as good experience for those two to solve their own problems without the presence of Brady on the sidelines if there was indeed no plan to play Brady.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Brady said he was hoping to play in the preseason finale.
“It’s always up to Coach Belichick. I wish I’d play every game,” Brady said. “I mean, I love playing. I love playing in practice, I love playing in preseason games, regular season games, postseason games. I love thinking about football. It’s just the way it is.”
The news comes a week after a lot of folks made a rather large deal about Brady getting in some playing time in the more-important third preseason game of the year at Carolina. Brady entered the game late in the first quarter and connected with Aaron Dobson for a long catch-and-run on the QB’s first snap of the night. Later, he connected with new receiver Chris Hogan for a picture-perfect 35-yard touchdown.
While many have argued, rightfully, that Garoppolo needs the all the experience he can get, considering he’ll be making his first career start in a matter of days. But there is also this: Starting the game with some incompletions and a 16-yard intentional grounding penalty was not ideal for Garoppolo. He gained the experience of being a starter who got benched.
Later, Garoppolo was asked to come in cold off the bench to run a two-minute drill, in which he went 0-for-1 and was strip-sacked while trying to escape pressure. When the Patriots got the ball back with under a minute left, head coach Bill Belichick opted to take a knee and head into halftime rather than give Garoppolo another shot at running the hurry-up offense.
Garoppolo had his chances, and he didn’t make the most of them. That’s a valuable lesson to be learned. And if Brady’s presence on Thursday night — either on the field or just on the sidelines — adds to the pressure on Garoppolo, then that’s a good thing. The pressure will only be increasing when the games start to count.
In the NFL, no job is ever handed to anyone. If Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff (and Brady, for that matter) are deciding to make Garoppolo work to earn his job, it’s not a bad thing.