FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ offensive playbook is notoriously difficult to learn for rookie wide receivers, who have trouble adapting from simple college offenses to more complex NFL systems. So it’s difficult to imagine the uphill climb that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo faces as he tries to play catch-up with veterans Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett.
Garoppolo already is losing sleep trying to learn the Patriots’ weighty playbook, but the second-round pick seems up for the challenge.
“I can’t even describe it to you,” Garoppolo said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium about how much time he has spent in the last three days learning the system. “Unbelievable amount. Getting a little sleep deprived, but that’s a good thing in this business.”
Eastern Illinois appeared to run a simple offense during Garoppolo’s time in the program, depending on timing and getting the ball out quickly — something at which the quarterback excels. Eastern Illinois also ran most of its plays out of the shotgun, and Garoppolo admitted he would have to adjust to playing under center in the NFL. Garoppolo said the Patriots haven’t approached him about his throwing technique, but he’s starting anew on the mental aspect.
“Not many,” Garoppolo said about similarities between the Eastern Illinois and Patriots offenses. “It’s a completely different offense, to be honest. It’s like learning Spanish compared to English. It’s like a completely different language.”
Garoppolo will have to lean on Brady and Mallett heavily, though he hasn’t had much of a chance to speak to either player yet. Garoppolo said the rookies and veterans are separate for now, and that he’s had just a quick introduction to the two veteran signal-callers.
Garoppolo has confidence that he can pick up the system quickly, and it certainly seems like he’s dedicated.
“Very quickly I think,” Garoppolo said about how fast he can pick up an offense. “It’s going to be a process and a huge learning curve. But I’m excited for it. It’s a unique experience. It’s a tremendous offense and a tremendous offense to play for.”
Garoppolo certainly is saying all of the right things since being selected by the Patriots on Friday night — almost as though he was programmed since birth to play for the organization. Garoppolo hasn’t come close to saying he’s looking to steal Brady’s job, but the rookie also has stressed that he isn’t prepared to sit and hang back for a few years.
For many players, it would be a tightrope walk between wanting to start but respecting the legend who holds Garoppolo’s desired role, but it’s come easy for Garoppolo. The only difficult thing was leaving his mother early on Mothers’ Day.
“She was a little upset about it, but it’s business now,” Garoppolo said. “It’s my job, and I’m excited to be out here.”
Garoppolo said he’s excited, not overwhelmed to step into the Patriots’ organization, which is an important distinction.