Jimmy Garoppolo has some of the best stats of any quarterback in the league this preseason. But what does that really mean? (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
Five thoughts on potential Patriots, old and new, as well as preseason quarterback stats.
1. Fred Jackson was cut loose by the Bills on Monday after eight successful years in Buffalo. The 34-year-old, who has always been respected by Bill Belichick, has always been known as a good hands guy out of the backfield, having averaged 40 catches a year in his eight seasons in the league. That includes 66 last season with the Bills. So would he fit with the Patriots, a team that’s still seeking some help in the post-Shane Vereen era? Despite the fact that New England has more than a few possibilities in camp vying for the third-down job, New England would be foolish not to at least kick the tires on Jackson, who has also shown an ability to run between the tackles on occasion. (He’s averaged 4.4 yards per carry over the course of his career, and has topped 500 yards rushing in six of his eight seasons in the league.) He’s a relatively young 34 in that he didn’t get his shot at the NFL until he was 26, and so the usual expiration date for a running back might not necessarily apply to the Coe College product. Some food for thought.
2. Another release that caught our eye on Monday was guard Donald Thomas, who was cut loose by the Colts. The likable veteran, who spent two seasons with the Patriots (2011-2012) signed a four-year $14 million deal with the Colts shortly after hitting the market as a free agent. But the UConn product never panned out — he tore his right quad and left biceps in Week 2 in 2013, causing him to miss the rest of the season. His 2014 season was similar washout, as he tore the same quad in training camp and never saw the field. While there’s some question about Thomas’ health at this stage of his career, if he’s OK, he would represent a nice pickup for the Patriots, who could use some depth along the interior line. Thomas would be cost-effective, he knows the system and he could bring depth to a position of need. Ultimately, like Jackson, there’s no harm in at least inquiring about him at this stage of the summer.
3. The Kenbrell Thompkins question is another instance of a former Patriot suddenly becoming available and providing some support in an area where New England has had some health issues. Thompkins, who was released Monday by the Raiders, spent a season-plus with New England, and the 27-year-old caught 38 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns before being released last fall. The 6-foot, 196-pounder, who was a relatively reliable intermediate threat while he was with the Patriots, played the last 12 games of the 2014 season in Oakland before being shown the door this week. Thompkins is a pass catcher in the Brandon LaFell mold, a quicker receiver who can occasionally go deep. Between LaFell, Reggie Wayne and Thompkins, there is some offensive redundancy, but he could be a target for New England depending on how it feels about the other two receivers, particularly in the short-term.
4. One note on New England’s quarterback play over the course of the preseason: Just as we would caution you to not read too much into the fact that this is, at least from a statistical standpoint, likely to be Tom Brady’s worst preseason stat line of his career, folks shouldn’t get too jacked up about the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo is having one of the best preseasons of any quarterback in the league. The second-year man out of Eastern Illinois is 61-for-80 (76 percent completion rate) for 554 yards, to go along with two touchdowns and two picks. Here are some of the best preseason performances for quarterbacks with at least 30 pass attempts to their credit going into the final week of the preseason, ranked by completion percentage:
Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater: 29-for-35 (83 percent) for 295 yards with one touchdown
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill: 33-for-41 (81 percent) for 303 yards, with three touchdowns
Washington’s Kirk Cousins: 40-for-53 (76 percent) for 435 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Green Bay’s Brett Hundley: 29-for-42 (69 percent) for 394 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.
Denver’s Brock Osweiler: 37-for-56 (66 percent) for 376 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Kansas City’s Chase Daniels: 25-for-33 (66 percent) for 271 yards with four touchdowns.
Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles: 39-for-60 (65 percent) for 461 yards with one touchdown.
5. In that same vein, there’s a great piece here by Danny Kelly, who breaks down preseason quarterbacking numbers from 2014 and tries to figure out if there’s any correlation between a young signal-caller excelling in the preseason and having a good regular season. Kelly deconstructs the numbers to find that Bridgewater and Oakland’s Derek Carr were the two rookies last year who saw a good preseason carry over into the regular season. Meanwhile Bortles, Cousins and Zach Mettenberger weren’t able to have their solid preseason stats translate to a similar regular season. For what it’s worth, he also puts Garoppolo’s 2014 preseason under the microscope. An interesting story that’s worth your time.
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