By Brent Schwartz, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — While many might concentrate on Tom Brady’s performance in a 27-23 preseason loss to the Houston Texans, it was Jimmy Garoppolo that played the majority of the quarterback snaps Saturday night. The starters deservedly got most of the attention, but Jimmy G.’s progress is still very important to watch.
Garoppolo had his ups and downs against the Texans on Saturday night in the Patriots’ second preseason game, finishing 15-for-23 passing for 145 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. Sandwiched between his two turnovers, he threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Foster.
Garoppolo also took a big hit from Texans linebacker Tony Washington Jr., who came untouched on a backside blitz. Garoppolo fumbled on the hit to commit his first turnover of the preseason. Despite the unblocked rusher, Garoppolo held himself accountable for failing to hold onto the ball.
“The O-line did a great job for me tonight,” Garoppolo said. “The sack-fumble was my fault. Can’t have that happen.”
Garoppolo escaped a sack later in the game, only to throw an errant interception to the Texans’ Denzel Rice.
“I avoided the D-end at first, I was just trying to throw it away but didn’t put enough on it,” Garoppolo said. “It was just a bad play. Rough way to end the night. It’s frustrating when you can’t go back out there and make up for it.”
Despite some shaky throws, Garoppolo showed mental toughness in putting those negative plays behind him. Garoppolo made enough good passes to lead the Patriots on four scoring drives, but we’ll never know how Garoppolo could have responded after throwing the interception since he was removed after that.
When evaluating Garoppolo’s preseason performances, it’s worth noting that Garoppolo plays with mostly backups. That’s certainly a disadvantage. Garoppolo threw for 502 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game and a half with the starters in the 2016 regular season. He was the league’s highest-rated quarterback before spraining his AC joint in the Patriots’ 31-24 week 2 win over the Dolphins.
If something were to happen to Tom Brady, Patriots fans should still feel confident with Garoppolo in the fold. After all, Garoppolo has experience with many of the starters, and would now have Rob Gronkowksi and Brandin Cooks as weapons in 2017.
This is all hypothetical, and that’s where Patriots fans would like to keep it. As for Garoppolo’s performances this preseason, the only takeaway is that it’s the preseason – but it’s still all we have to go by.