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Samsonite Make Your Case: Backup Plan

Posted Aug 8, 2014

After one preseason game has your opinion of the Patriots backup quarterback changed?

Coaches, at least the good ones, don’t make snapshot judgments. Their evaluations generally involve more information, film study and conversations than any fan could possibly imagine.

Media types? Not so much. Often times we’re guilty of allowing the most recent sample of work to cloud our judgment and as a result we tend to overrate a practice or play and even a game as being worthy of more than it should.

Take the case of the Patriots backup quarterback. Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo have been on the field working with Patriots coaches since May. There have been countless reps for each – both in the classroom and on the practice field – between OTAs, mini-camp, training camp and now, a preseason game.

Tom Brady’s two backups each played a half against Washington. Mallett really struggled while the rookie seemed to enjoy the bright lights of game night and put forth a quality performance.

But was that enough to make Mallett expendable and for Garoppolo to vault to the No. 2 spot behind Brady? That’s what we’re debating in this week’s Samsonite Make Your Case.

PFW's Andy Hart says ...


This may seem like a reactionary response to one game of preseason action, but I’m ready to make this year’s No. 2 pick the No. 2 quarterback. Garoppolo has admittedly struggled in training camp practices, but still brought plenty of confidence, energy and production to his first NFL game in Washington. Conversely, Mallett continues to struggle with the same things that have always plagued him – accuracy, consistency and timely decision-making.

So, for me the question of the backup job is one about progression. Mallett has shown limited progression and evolution in his three-plus seasons. He is what he is, and despite what Mike Mayock says that’s probably not nearly good enough. Garoppolo is learning and growing by the day. I really believe that three weeks or so from now he’ll be a much better quarterback than he is today. I can’t say that about Mallett.

We all realize that if Brady goes down for an extended period that the team is going to face an uphill battle, as is the case with all teams who lose an elite passer. In that case I’d feel better about watching Garoppolo playing with the idea that he’s getting experience that could pay off in the future – whether that future be one play later or years down the road.

From where I sit, it seems that Mallett’s time in New England is coming to an end. No. 10 should be No. 2 for 2014.
— AH  

PFW's Paul Perillo says ...


Judging solely based on Thursday night there’s no way anyone would say Mallett deserves to be the backup ahead of Garoppolo. But I’m not basing my choice simply on one game but rather the entire offseason.

Mallett has not been outstanding on the practice field but he has had his moments. His arm strength is unquestioned and at times during camp he’s shown a solid grasp of the offense and an accurate, dependable arm that has put the ball where his receivers need to catch it.

Garoppolo on the other hand has appeared to be overwhelmed at times. His showing in the game is simply a solid day of camp as far as I’m concerned. It shouldn’t count significantly more than any other practice day, and if we’re evaluating based on everything we’ve seen Mallett is the more prepared quarterback to step in for Tom Brady if disaster strikes.

Obviously no one wants to see either on the field but it would make me more comfortable to keep all three.
— PP

Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.

Click Here to vote on a mobile device.

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