Why Jimmy Garoppolo’s uneven outing is teaching tool for Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo completed 20-of-30 passes for 159 yards and an interception.

Greg M. Cooper/Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady piloted two series in Thursday night’s 22-11 preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers before making way for backup Jimmy Garoppolo.

Brady, who is suspended for the first four games of the regular season, watched his understudy struggle to find his footing for more than three quarters.

Playing behind the second-string offensive line and largely without any Week 1 regular-season playmakers, Garoppolo showed some areas to improve upon. The second-year QB from Eastern Illinois was sacked seven times, threw an interception and made a couple of other questionable decisions.

Garoppolo, who continues to learn the complexities of the Patriots offense, was effective in the short passing game. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels picked up the tempo and relied on the three-step throwing game heavily after Garoppolo threw the interception to Packers cornerback Ladarius Gunter.

Garoppolo previously underthrew two deep balls outside the numbers, which both were nearly picked by Packers rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins. Garoppolo finished the game completing 20-of-30 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns. 

However, McDaniels was able to get Garoppolo in rhythm, and the quarterback completed 10 consecutive passes. 

Garoppolo often looked undrafted rookie wide receiver Chris Harper’s way, completing all seven targets for 48 yards. Second-year running back James White also was a Shane Vereen-like threat out of the backfield, hauling in four receptions for 52 yards.

The Patriots’ lone series capped by a touchdown was fueled by bowling-ball back Jonas Gray. The second-year runner rumbled to an impressive 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

As Brady faces off with the NFL in federal court regarding Deflategate, Garoppolo must continue to get up to speed as the Patriots kick off the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers in exactly four weeks.

Rookie of the night goes to Lions RB: Add rookie running back Ameer Abdullah to the growing list of impact playmakers in the Detroit Lions’ offense.  

Not to overreact to preseason football, but Abdullah flashed his ability to make a cut and accelerate on a 45-yard run Thursday against the Jets. Abdullah pulled away from defenders before falling to the turf.  

Abdullah, who was the fourth running back selected in this year’s draft, finished with seven carries for 67 yards, averaging 9.6 a pop. With running back Joique Bell easing his way back from injuries, Abdullah has the potential to unlock the offense with electrifying runs. 

Blow to Redskins’ offense: Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul sustained a season-ending fractured and dislocated ankle, head coach Jay Gruden told reporters after the game. Paul, who was carted off in an air cast, is a huge loss for the Redskins, as fellow tight ends Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen continue to work back from injuries. Furthermore, third-string running back Silas Redd was carted off with a right knee injury.