Patriots notebook: Jimmy Garoppolo woeful in first scrimmage
FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo had a woeful performance yesterday during the first intrasquad scrimmage of training camp.
The Patriots backup quarterback completed 14-of-36 passes and orchestrated four field-goal drives in nine possessions while his team fell, 20-12, to the group that was led by Tom Brady and Jacoby Brissett. Brady’s offense scored on all three possessions before he departed in the second quarter with a 13-3 lead.
To be fair, Garoppolo wasn’t exactly playing with the first-team offense. Running back Dion Lewis (six catches) was Garoppolo’s most prominent teammate, and tight ends Matt Lengel and Jacob Hollister were the only others who could ultimately crack the 53-man roster next month.
On the flip side, Garoppolo’s offense competed against the backup defense, so they had a level playing field. And Garoppolo’s greatest issue was that he had too many contested passes. Undrafted rookie cornerback D.J. Killings (three pass breakups), cornerback Justin Coleman (two), undrafted rookie safety Jason Thompson (two) and undrafted rookie corner Kenny Moore (one) combined to swat aside eight passes.
“You’re never happy about the incompletions, interceptions or anything like that, but it’s training camp,” Garoppolo said. “We’ll learn from those situations. We always go back, watch the film, and just diagnose what happened and what we could do to fix that.”
Garoppolo has been inconsistent in his fourth training camp, though the cries of his demise have been tremendously exaggerated. He has only completed 59.0 percent of his passes and has six interceptions in team drills (7-on-7s and 11-on-11s).
Garoppolo has had more good days than bad among the Patriots’ first eight practices, but he has sprinkled in some interceptions (two picks among his 12-of-16 performance in the second practice, for example) that overshadowed some of his better workouts.
“I think I’m going in the right way,” Garoppolo said. “It’s a grind. You’re trying different things, trying new plays. You’re with new guys, and there’s a lot of variables that go into it. But as long as we’re learning and progressing, we’ll be all right.”
The other caveat: Garoppolo’s summer struggles have been well-documented, from the practices in 2014, to the preseason games in 2016. He dismissed the notion that he is better when it matters, but the results are what they are.
“I try to come out and perform the same every day, whether it’s game, practice, whatever it may be,” Garoppolo said. “I don’t know what it is. It just seems to work out that way.”
Line ’em up
There were some moving parts on the offensive line due to left tackle Nate Solder’s absence (unknown reasons) and left guard Joe Thuney’s departure due to an unknown injury.
Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle rotated at left tackle for the starting offense, while rookie Tony Garcia was the top left tackle for the Garoppolo group. Garcia played really well, though, and he continued to display his nasty, aggressive style in a number of blocks against Kony Ealy.
It only seems like a matter of time before Garcia earns more opportunities to practice as the top backup left tackle, and his performance has more to do with that than his third-round draft status.
Before leaving with the team doctor, Thuney rotated to center for a series in place of David Andrews, and Ted Karras subbed in at left guard. Based on this pattern and Thuney’s work at center last season during practice, it still appears that he is Andrews’ top backup. The Patriots will need to carry another backup guard with Karras, and that competition remains wide open.
Stephen Gostkowski was busy during the scrimmage since he is the Patriots’ lone kicker.
He converted 6-of-7 field goals and both of his extra points. His only miss was a 49-yarder for Garoppolo’s team, but he made amends with a 45-yarder later in the scrimmage.
It’s virtually impossible to track Gostkowski’s performance throughout training camp because the viewing angles aren’t conducive to tallying his conversion percentage. But yesterday, with the coaching staff signaling “good” and “no good” for scoring purposes, this was the first opportunity to assess the veteran’s workout and he delivered.