Jimmy Garoppolo stands in the pocket and fires a pass Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. (Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jimmy Garoppolo had all week to prepare himself for his first NFL start at quarterback.
Yes, it was just preseason but Bill Belichick wanted to give the rookie a simulation of what the work load is like getting ready to take all the snaps in practice and then take of them in a game.
The result? A bit of a bumpy start but a productive night and in the end, invaluable experience commanding an offense that is regarded as one of the most complex in the game.
He had a couple of underthrows and incompletions that resulted in punts on the first two series. He threw a first half interception when Josh Boyce appeared to turn the wrong way on an in-cut pass. And he took a bad sack in the fourth quarter.
But through it all, he finished 22-of-42 for 284 yards, a 71.9 rating, and a beauty of a touchdown toss to Aaron Dobson in the first half. He also directed the Patriots down the field in a two-minute drill before halftime with a pair of sideline passes, showing poise and skill.
How did Garoppolo feel overall?
“You know, it could have gone better,” Garoppolo said. “There was definitely some things that, you know, we messed up on, fixable things and things to learn from when you watch the film.
“I’m not sure. I don’t know. It’s one of the things that we’ll see on the film, whatever it was, that we weren’t clicking like we should’ve been. We’ll fix it.”
Garoppolo definitely appeared to find his groove late in the first quarter and into the second, when he led the Patriots to 10 points and a halftime tie.
“I felt pretty comfortable from the beginning, but you know, just gradually, I mean that’s how every game is,” Garoppolo said. “You start to pick up what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to do it, so just gradually got more comfortable.”
Bill Belichick would not commit to whether Garoppolo had done enough to beat out Ryan Mallett and win the No. 2 quarterback job behind Tom Brady. Garoppolo said that competitive dynamic didn’t create any stress in the quarterback room.
“You know, me and Ryan, and Tom [Brady] as well, we all have good relationships with one another, help each other out, and those two guys have helped me more than anyone probably. It’s the same as it always was.”
Does Garoppolo feel ready to assume the No. 2 spot behind No. 12?
“Yeah, ready to do whatever they ask me to do,” he said. “Whenever an opportunity comes, whether it’s first, second, third, whatever it is, you have to be ready for it and I think this preseason, going into the games with the mindset that I was the starter and just preparing like that, it really helped me get ready for that.”
Here’s are more highlights from Garoppolo’s postgame press conference Thursday night at MetLife Stadium:
Q: Were you impressed with Tim Wright and the fact that he just got here?
A: Very intelligent player. He picks it up very quickly and he’s pretty athletic, too. He had a heck of the game along with all the other tight ends and receivers and running backs. They all played well tonight.
Q: Has it been a good week for you as far as you’re the guy, your ability to work through things, just get the experience on and off the bus, playing in a stadium where they just played the Super Bowl past year, just the whole week experience? Pretty good experience for you?
A: Yeah, very good. It’s one of those things that hopefully I look back on it in a couple of years and I really learned a lot from it and just take it and try to take the next step now. Now I know what a normal week is like for preparing to start and everything like that and it will only help me going forward.
Q: On the long touchdown pass to Aaron [Dobson] on the left side, can you go back through sort of what you saw on that?
A: Yeah, he had a go route and went up and made a tremendous play for me. It’s nice having receivers like that on the outside, big body guys who could go up and make a play for you and that’s what he did. It was a nice catch.
Q: Was that your first read on the play [the touchdown to Dobson], or were you going through your progressions there?
A: Going through it, yeah. I mean he beat the guy and just got to lay a ball up there for him to go get and he did that.
Q: On the flipside, what do you remember about the interception? What happened on that play?
A: The ball got away from me a little bit, sailed a little high and you know you can’t sail one high with defenders behind the receivers. That’s what happens when you do that. It’s a learning experience, wish it wouldn’t have happened, but you got to learn from it and keep it down next time.
Q: Has this been a whirlwind when you look at it? Preseason’s over, that’s done, and training camp’s over. I mean, has it moved really quickly?
A: It was slow in the beginning, but now that I look back on it, it flew by. I’m sure that’s just part of being a rookie, but it was a good first training camp, first preseason, learned a ton and hopefully it will benefit me later on in my career.
Q: Jimmy, in announcing that you would start this week, I think Coach [Bill] Belichick had mentioned he wanted you to experience everything that went into being a starting quarterback, including this aspect of it, the media aspect of the game. How would you describe the experience he wanted you to have through your eyes?
A: I think it was very beneficial. Coming from a small school, we didn’t have media like this. It’s good to experience the outside the locker room stuff, what goes on, the production meetings, you know, all that stuff. Like I said, I think it will only benefit me in the long run and I’m happy with what happened this week.
Q: How difficult is it for you to understand the offense? What I mean by that is, did you even have a playbook your senior year of college? You go from your senior year and not having a playbook to the Patriots playbook. Explain how difficult that has been.
A: It was an adjustment, it definitely was, but you know, that’s the NFL for you. I mean everyone has a playbook, it’s like learning a different language, and it’s just something that you have to adapt to and adapt quickly.