FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ preseason opener came at the perfect time for rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The second-round draft pick was floundering in practice, but with an impressive preseason debut came increased confidence. Since Garoppolo shined against the Washington Redskins, completing 9 of 13 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown two weeks ago, the Eastern Illinois product has looked like a different player.
“It’s one of those things — each opportunity you get, you gotta learn from it, get better each time, and if you do that, you just naturally gain more confidence,” Garoppolo said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium after practice.
Garoppolo can effortlessly flick a ball down the field 40 yards, and he displayed impressive accuracy along with underrated athleticism while playing at the FCS level in college, but the rookie said confidence is key for a quarterback.
“If you don’t have confidence, you go out there and you’re just not yourself,” Garoppolo said. “If you have confidence, you can be a good quarterback.”
Of course, time spent in the Patriots’ complex offense has helped Garoppolo, too. The Patriots appeared to increase Garoppolo’s responsibility from Week 1 to Week 2 of the preseason, incorporating more five- and seven-step drops, allowing the QB more time to go through his reads. Garoppolo continued to shine, throwing for two touchdowns and 72 yards while completing 6 of 12 passes.
Garoppolo said the game is getting slower for him with every practice, despite the increased responsibility.
“Each day is easier and easier. I’m trying to learn more and more with the offense as we pick it up,” Garoppolo said. “It’s one of those things, if you keep getting better, it’s gonna slow down. It goes hand in hand.”
If all goes as planned for the Patriots, it will be a while before Garoppolo plays in a meaningful game. But with each impressive preseason performance, it’s looking more and more like the Patriots could count on Garoppolo to be their No. 2 quarterback behind starter Tom Brady this season.