BOSTON (CBS) — The preseason is over, and now the Patriots enter the great unknown.
We’ve become accustomed to Tom Brady providing that steady force under center, but this year it will be Jimmy Garoppolo leading the offense for the first four games of the season. He had an up-and-down preseason as New England’s starter, and will face a giant test in his first career start against the Arizona Cardinals and their top-ranked defense.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich (with Dan Roche filling in for Fred) on Tuesday morning to break down the first month under Garoppolo, and said not to expect too many changes to New England’s game plan, even without Tom Brady at QB.
“I think the playbook is going to look fairly similar, really. I think they’re going to come out fast because that is when Garoppolo was playing at his best,” said Howe. “He can make all the throws; I like his arm action going down the field, spreading it into the second and third level of the defense.”
Howe said the Pats will play to the strengths of their offensive weapons, with some short strikes to the likes of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but they will also utilize Garoppolo’s deep passing attack. He’ll also have Rob Gronkowski out there to catch anything that goes his way, and it’s possible that rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell will be back for the opener after suffering an elbow injury in the first preseason game.
“I don’t think you have to worry too much about Garoppolo dinking and dunking it, because I like the arm he has. As long as he is able to withstand the rush, Bill Belichick noted [the Cardinals rush] five guys a ton, but it’s not a creative blitz,” noted Howe. “They just have to make sure they don’t test Deone Bucannon or Tyrann Mathieu or Patrick Peterson too much. Know where the defense’s weaknesses are against your strengths and look at that matchup first, wherever it happens to be.”
Howe also touched on New England’s running game, and that giant Tom Brady banner that will be watching over Jimmy G at Gillette Stadium: