By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — One of the strengths of Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has always been his quick release, which can be a great weapon and physical tool for any signal-caller. He put it on full display Thursday night in his 2016 Patriots preseason debut, his first game while knowing he is the team’s Week 1 starter.

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Jimmy G. was far from perfect – he made one particularly bad throw in the second quarter, running left before stopping short and throwing across his body, heaving the ball into what looked like the entire Saints defense. He also held onto the ball too long at times, particularly when he took his two sacks. But what stood out the most to me was his ability to get rid of the ball quickly while under pressure.

The shining example of Garoppolo’s quick release came on a screen pass to James White, which the Patriots running back took all the way to the 1-yard line. The play appeared designed for this throw, but Nate Solder got beat by the Saints’ Kasim Edebali and safety Roman Harper burst right through the line untouched. By the way, does Marcus Cannon play while wearing horse blinders? Anyway, Garoppolo had two defenders bearing down on him, stood his ground, and got the pass out before the rush could get to him.

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Garoppolo also showed off his quick release on a shallow crossing route to Martellus Bennett. Surely the play was designed to execute a quick throw in the first place, but on this particular pass the pocket had collapsed within two seconds and Garoppolo had the Saints’ Sheldon Rankins right in his face. Garoppolo did a good job standing back and throwing a strike, despite the pressure closing in on him.

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According to Mike Giardi of Comcast SportsNet, who tracked Garoppolo’s throws with a stopwatch, he got the Bennett throw off in 2.08 seconds and the White throw in 1.7 seconds, with a 2.17 average on all 18 pass attempts. If he can continue to release the ball in two seconds or less, especially on third down and in situations where defenders are about to maul him, he will be just fine in the Patriots’ first four games of the season.

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There are obvious concerns with Garoppolo – his decision-making was hit-or-miss and the offensive line may not protect him very well to start the season – but for a guy playing with, at most, one starting pass-catcher (Bennett), Garoppolo looked OK. If he can get rid of the ball as quickly as he did Thursday night when he has Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis to throw to, he will be at the very least a serviceable starting quarterback while Tom Brady sits out the first four games.

Garoppolo’s quick release also played a role in his solid ball security Thursday night. Despite a handful of questionable (or downright bad) throws and decisions, he did not turn the ball over and got the ball away in situations where he was vulnerable to a strip-sack or rushed throw. And that’s all that should be asked of Garoppolo in his four starts, anyway: protect the ball, manage the game, and don’t do anything silly.

Jimmy G. still has a lot to work on in his development as a QB and future as a potential starter in the NFL, but one thing that does not need much work is the quickness of his release. And with this Patriots offense at full strength, it will be a nice weapon to have.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer for His opinions 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