Bill Belichick could have avoided a lot of controversy by starting fourth-year backup quarterback Ryan Mallett in the New England Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants.
The Patriots head coach’s eye toward the future led to his decision to start rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo instead of Mallett or starter Tom Brady, however.
“I think in this case it is just an experience that he needs to go through to feel like he is going to start the game. He is going to be in the game for every situation — second down, third down, goal line, red area, two-minute, whatever it is, he needs to be prepared for everything and handle whatever comes up,” Belichick said Monday on WEEI’s Dale & Holley Show. “This is also a week that he will have to deal with the media, deal with the production meeting before the game — I’m sure the fans will have a lot of insults for him when he walks on the field, it’s an away game — it’s all the things that a quarterback eventually will do as a starting quarterback.
“Whenever that happens, I have no idea, but whenever it does at least he will have done it once before. I think there is something to be learned here. Ryan (Mallett) has been here 3 1/2 years and Tom (Brady) has done it a couple hundred times, so this is an opportunity for Jimmy to get that experience and I am sure he will learn from it.”
The Patriots drafted Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft to be their future starting quarterback. Garoppolo has shown plenty of promise in his first three preseason games, completing 64.9 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and zero turnovers.
Garoppolo met with the media on Monday and said that he’s “excited” for the opportunity to start against the Giants. If Garoppolo shines against the Giants and proves he can be Brady’s backup, he could bump Mallett off of the 53-man roster.
Garoppolo will be facing some tough competition to begin Thursday night’s game. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told the media he plans to play his starters “a little bit” against the Patriots.
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