All hope is not lost if Tom Brady’s suspension holds and the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback has to miss a quarter of the 2015 season.
The Patriots have high hopes for second-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo, and there’s good reason for their optimism. Garoppolo was a steal with the 62nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he showed clear improvement from organized team activities, when he looked Tebow-esque, to Week 17, when he played the second half of the Patriots’ loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Let’s take a look at Garoppolo’s film from last season to see where he stood out.
Perhaps Garoppolo’s biggest strength as a rookie was his mobility in the pocket. He did a nice job evading or side-stepping the rush. Under pressure, he only completed four passes on eight attempts for 27 yards and was sacked five times, but his pocket presence showed plenty of upside.
— This play doesn’t so much show off Garoppolo’s pocket presence as it does his ability to evade sacks and take off for a first down. It also shows off his toughness.
— Here’s another example of Garoppolo’s toughness. Bill Belichick will probably shoot Jimmy a menacing glare if he sees many plays like this while the second-year pro is a starter.
— Decision-making skills
Garoppolo dropped back to pass 34 times in 2014 and was sacked, hit or hurried on 15 of those snaps, meaning he was pressured on 44.1 percent of his snaps. Garoppolo didn’t throw any interceptions despite being under siege, playing behind a leaky backup offensive line.
By comparison, Tom Brady was pressured on 28.4 percent of his passing snaps.
Garoppolo chose to hold onto the ball and eat a sack on five of those 15 snaps rather than wildly firing the ball away, forcing a turnover. Garoppolo must learn to safely throw the ball away, which is something Brady has mastered. Still, a sack is better than an interception.
Garoppolo completed 70.4 percent of his passes as a rookie, and he was incredibly accurate in the shallow portion of the field, completing 16 of 17 passes. He completed three of six attempts from 10 to 19 yards downfield, and he was 0 for 1 on deep balls.
— Here’s an example of Garoppolo’s short-field accuracy. He looks off Brian Tyms, his first read, and hits Brandon LaFell over the middle of the field.
— Garoppolo steps up in the pocket, evading Jerry Hughes’ rush, steps up and delivers an accurate intermediate pass to LaFell.
— Holding onto the ball too long
Garoppolo’s offensive line didn’t do him any favors, as highlighted by how often he was pressured, but there were times Garoppolo stayed in the pocket for too long and ate a sack when it wasn’t necessary.
–In this play, Garoppolo has multiple options open, but he chooses to stay in the pocket instead, taking a big sack. Even if Garoppolo doesn’t have anyone open, with this amount of time, he should be able to throw the ball away, rather than being hit, risking a fumble.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images