BOSTON (CBS) — The mantra of the New England Patriots has always been “Next Man Up,” but it’s taking a whole new meaning this season.
First, it was Jimmy Garoppolo’s turn to be that man, taking over at quarterback while Tom Brady served his four-game suspension. Garoppolo filled in admirably, and the offense rallied around the third-year quarterback during his brief stint in the spotlight.
But it appears that run has come to an end after Garoppolo suffered an injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Miami Dolphins. So up next was Jacoby Brissett, the rookie quarterback New England drafted in the third round just five months ago.
The offense struggled at times (as did the defense in the second half), but Brissett did enough to help the Patriots secure Sunday’s victory, finishing 6-for-9 with 92 passing yards and 12 yards on four carries. He helped guide New England to a touchdown drive out of halftime, putting them up 31-3 at the time, and completed six of his last seven passes on the afternoon.
“When it’s time to go you have to make sure you’re ready to go,” Brissett told reporters after the win, saying he felt prepared when he got the call on the sidelines. “I obviously have to get better, but we did enough in all three phrases to help lead to this victory.”
The Patriots now find themselves in an interesting and unique position. Garoppolo will reportedly be for out up to six weeks, and by then Brady will have returned from his suspension. But they need at least one quarterback for the depth chart for the next two weeks, and have to navigate a quick turnaround from their Week 2 win to a Thursday Night Football matchup with the Houston Texans in just four days.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t add much to the situation after Sunday’s win, but it’s likely he’ll be working the phones to try and secure a veteran passer early this week.
“We’ll do whatever we think is best for the team,” Belichick said after the game.
But if it’s Brissett under center come Thursday night, his teammates will be ready to rally around him.
“Obviously, it was a tough situation, but I think Jacoby handled the moment well,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater. “I think he’s done a great job of preparing himself, and he got in there, he was able to make some plays with his legs, he was able to move the chains, and I think that the front played well.”
“Jacoby is a good player. He came in, had a lot of poise. We play with a next-man-up mentality,” said offensive lineman Joe Thuney.
Edelman, who was listed as Brissett’s backup QB, said the rookie was poised in the huddle and had a very mature approach.
“He came in and he handled it well,” said Edelman. “He’s a baby, and it’s just funny to see him in the huddle and stuff. I’m proud of him. He handled it real well. He made calls, he made the right run checks and all that stuff. I’m sure there’s more we could do better, but he came in and Jacoby handled it like a professional.”
Brissett handled himself well in a tough situation on Sunday, and should he be tabbed as New England’s starting QB for Weeks 3 and 4, his offense will be ready to do everything they can to help the rookie the rest of the way.