When the New England Patriots open their preseason schedule at home against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Tom Brady will not be on the field. Reports broke on Wednesday that Jimmy Garoppolo will play with the first team.
“The early signs point toward Garoppolo playing with the first-team offense to prepare the backup quarterback for the first four games of the season as Brady serves a four-game suspension,” per Chris Wesseling, NFL.com. “The plan early this week was for Brady to sit this game out, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported, via a source informed of the team’s preparations for the Saints.”
Garoppolo had previously said that even he wasn’t sure what kind of playing time he’d get.
For the first game, this game plan makes complete sense. Starters rarely play more than one or two possessions. With that, it makes sense to give those reps to the younger Garoppolo.
The starters tend to play a little more in the second and third games. There, it will be much easier for Garoppolo and Brady to split reps while both getting ample time with the first team.
The Patriots are certainly in a unique situation this season. Brady is clearly the team’s starting quarterback and needs to be as sharp as possible. Still, Brady’s suspension will obviously put Garoppolo in the starting job for the first four games.
Given his lack of meaningful NFL experience, Garoppolo needs heavy reps with the first team if New England is going to stay afloat during Brady’s suspension. The first preseason game is as good a time as any to give those reps.