During training camp, Jimmy Garoppolo was underwhelming — and that’s putting it nicely. His passes were off target and, in general, he looked uncomfortable manning the offense in his initial debut with the New England Patriots. That all changed last night, as Garoppolo was a bright spot in the Patriots’ 23-6 loss to the Washington Redskins in pre-season NFL action.
For Garoppolo, last night’s game was not just his first as an NFL player, but his first ever. Prior to last night, the quarterback out of Eastern Illinois University had never once attended an NFL game, making his debut doubly special. The second-round draft pick came out strong, taking the Patriots offense 56 yards in his first sequence before turning the ball over on downs in the red zone. In minutes he outshone Ryan Mallett, who had an underwhelming performance.
This was Garoppolo’s coming out party. After his poor performance in training camp, there was certainly concern among fans that maybe this young man was not the future of the franchise. There was speculation that he may not even play in the pre-season opener at all because he simply just wasn’t ready to compete.
In the future, I hope to see more of the same from Garoppolo, but there is no telling if last night’s performance was simply a rush of excitement or the true Jimmy. Garoppolo certainly needs more time with the team to properly develop his skill, but having Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as his mentors should help him improve even further. It is too early to tell — and it’s honestly doubtful — that Garoppolo is truly the future of the Patriots, but he should be proud that he silenced the skeptics, myself included, at least for a day.