FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots might have to rely on an unproven quarterback going forward, and his name isn’t Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Patriots’ strange quarterback situation took another twist Sunday at Gillette Stadium, as Garoppolo, the team’s interim starter with Tom Brady suspended, exited in the first half with a right shoulder injury. With Garoppolo potentially missing some time, New England called on third-string rookie Jacoby Brissett, the team’s third-round pick out of North Carolina State, to maintain its early 21-point lead.
To say Brissett’s appearance was a surprise would be an understatement, but the rookie did enough to help the Patriots win, completing 6 of 9 passes for 92 yards with no interceptions as New England held on for a 31-24 win.
“Look, he’s been working on this for a long time, all the way back into the spring, all the way through training camp,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of Brissett. “He’s gotten a lot of reps. He did a good job — pressure situation, played two and a half quarters. He did a good job for us.”
Unlike Garoppolo, Brissett didn’t dazzle, but for a guy thrust into his first NFL game with all the pressure in the world on him, the 23-year-old kept his cool. And judging by his postgame comments, Brissett already is well-versed in the art of being a Patriots quarterback.
“Did enough to win,” Brissett said when asked to rate his performance. “Obviously (have) to get better, but we did a great job in all phases of the game to help lead to this victory.”
The Patriots likely will look to add another QB for depth, but with a quick turnaround against the Houston Texans next Thursday night, Brissett could be the guy in Week 3. It appears he’s up to the challenge.
“He’s a great guy. I hope he’s well,” Brissett said of Garoppolo. “But when it’s time to go, you’ve just got to make sure you’re ready to go. Hopefully we can get him back.”
“It’s just been preparing every day,” Brissett added. “Watching all the film, (whether) it’s me in or Jimmy in or Tom in, and just learning from every opportunity possible. … Whenever your opportunity comes, you’ve just got to be ready for it.”
It’s a pretty rare situation for New England, which virtually never has to employ two quarterbacks in a season, much less in a single game. Brissett has virtually no experience with the Patriots’ first-team offense, so his learning curve will be steep.
But when asked specifically how much he’s played with New England’s first unit, he responded with confidence.
“Enough to go out there and win,” he said.
The Patriots are hoping that’s the case again in Week 3.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images