By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots inserted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into the game against the Cleveland Browns with 6:02 still on the clock, the move appeared to be a message of sorts to Tom Brady’s backup. Recent comments by the QB and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels suggest that was the case.
In Cleveland, Garoppolo made his first appearance in a game since spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder in Week 2 against the Dolphins, making one pass attempt. It felt like an awfully early time to remove Tom Brady, who typically plays all 60 minutes except in rare circumstances like the final drive of a blowout win. McDaniels spoke with ESPN’s Mike Reiss and tacitly acknowledged that Garoppolo’s presence in the game was a message: you still need to be ready to play at any time, even with Brady back.
“When you have an opportunity to know that you’re going to play in a regular-season game, prepare that way, and then learn from it and do it again the next week, I think that’s extremely important,” said McDaniels. “Because now hopefully you understand what it takes, how much work it requires to be totally prepared to see anything that you could see on a Sunday, and then you stick with that preparation. You don’t change your routine.”
Garoppolo had a positive outlook on his time as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, which was unfortunately cut short after Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso drove his throwing shoulder into the turf, which kept Garoppolo sidelined for the remainder of the Patriots’ first four games.
“We had a good thing going there for a while. … The first two games went really well, we were rolling,” he said. “But I always tell myself, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ There was a reason that happened, and hopefully, good things will come from it.”
Overall, Garoppolo was stellar in his six quarters of action to begin the season, completing 71 percent of his passes (42-of-59) and throwing for 496 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, especially, Garoppolo looked like a signal-caller capable of running the offense similarly to Brady, going 18-for-26 for 232 and three touchdowns before the shoulder injury.
Garoppolo commented on how he felt physically during his injury and recovery, suggesting that the injury severely limited him which may have led the team to hold him out of game action for two games.
“It’s a violent game, things are going to happen, but it sucks when you’re not out there. … It was an uncomfortable feeling, especially when it’s your throwing arm. It’s tough to get back as fast as you want to. You think you can do things – throws here, throws there – but you can’t do them because of the injury.”
There will be plenty of talk about Garoppolo’s potential trade value for as long as both he and Brady are in the fold with the Patriots. But for now, the Patriots are counting on him to be ready if and when he ever needs to get back on the field.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.