Heading into preseason Week 3, it was starting to feel like Ryan Mallett‘s days with the New England Patriots might be numbered. Many have wondered whether the Pats would be willing to carry three quarterbacks into the regular season. It has even been speculated that Mallett could be cut prior to the start of the season. However, based on his usage on Friday night, that may not be the case.
Even though he only threw three passes compared to Jimmy Garoppolo‘s twelve in the game, that may not be nearly as important as it might sound. What is important however, is when he threw those passes. Mallett entered the game for a series near the end of the first quarter completing 2-of-3 passes for 14 yards. He was the first QB to enter the game after Tom Brady, not Garoppolo.
When asked about it, coach Bill Belichick basically said that he wants to keep his backup QB prepared even when he isn’t expecting to come into a game. He also added that you never know whether there would be “bases loaded” or nobody on, meaning he could be thrust into action at any time in any situation. You have to be able to adjust and excel with whatever you are given.
Although Garoppolo played much longer and looked very good, completing 9-of-12 passes with a touchdown in the game, he didn’t come in until very late in the third quarter. Mallett on the other hand, played against most of the starters on a top-flight Carolina Panthers defense.
At this point, the question remains whether Mallett has been passed on the depth chart by Garoppolo. Belichick certainly didn’t reveal any of his secrets on that front tonight, though. However, given his level of experience in New England’s offense and Garoppolo’s lack thereof, along with how early he came in tonight, it appears Mallett has a hold on the No. 2 spot, at least for now.
One thing is certain, the fourth and final week of the preseason should allow both players enough time to prove themselves. Brady has nothing else to prove in the preseason, and I would be very surprised if he were to play even a single snap. The backup QB situation in NE may be cloudy now, but any remaining questions should be answered by next week, one way or another.