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Analysis: Jimmy Garoppolo gives the Patriots a glimpse of their Brady-less future

The loss of the backup QB will be felt over the next two games says Steve O’Rourke.

Jimmy G made it look all too easy.
Jimmy G made it look all too easy.

I HESITATE TO use the word ‘cheat’ around the New England Patriots but, in this instance, I’m going to use it as a compliment.

The Patriots are currently playing football on cheat mode. Without Tom Brady, without Rob Gronkowski, without Dont’a Hightower… they are 2-0 and looking on course for yet another AFC Championship Game appearance.

On Sunday, before he was carted off with an injury, Jimmy Garoppolo continued to show he is the rightful heir to the Brady throne.

The 24-year-old looked poised beyond his years and showed he knows the Patriots offence — or at least the parts offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels wants him to know — off by heart.

In one and half games, Garoppolo has completed 70% of his passes for nearly 500 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

His comfort with the offence was perfectly encapsulated on his third touchdown of the day against the Dolphins on Sunday. If you didn’t see it, here’s how it looked on TV:

Source: NFL Gamepass

Pre-snap read: Offence

When Gronk eventually does make it back onto the field, expect the Patriots to run a lot of offensive plays with their (two tight end, one running back) 12 personnel grouping.

However, on this score, the Patriots are in the 11 grouping — which forces the defence to account for both passing and running plays — with Martellus Bennett (blue) and James White (white) the tight end and running back respectively.

Source: NFL Gamepass

They’re joined by three receivers: Danny Amendola (red), Chris Hogan (green) and Julian Edelman (yellow).

Pre-snap read: defence

The game is only 17 minutes old but the Dolphins defence has already been on the field for 26 plays as quarterback Ryan Tannehill has failed to get their offence moving on the other side of the ball.

Miami break their huddle and look set to defend the play with the single high safety — in the shape of Isa Abdul-Quddus (orange) – in Cover 1 nickleback (having a fifth cornerback/safety on the field) while the remaining six players are showing blitz from the 4-2 defensive front.

Source: NFL Gamepass

With Reshad Jones (pink), Byron Maxwell (grey), Xavien Howard (brown) and Bobby McCain (black) in man coverage, this leaves James White uncovered so Abdul-Quddus moves into man-on-man coverage with the Patriots running back.

At the snap

Abdul-Quddus moving to cover White has left the middle of the field completely open.

Source: NFL Gamepass

However, the risk here is that the Dolphins are only showing blitz and will actually drop their linebackers — specifically Koa Misi (#55) and Kiko Alonso (47) — or safety Jones (#20) back into zone coverage, taking away the middle of the field.

To test the blitz, the Patriots keep Bennett, the tight end, blocking at the line of scrimmage. How Jones (#20) reacts is key to what Garoppolo does next.

Source: NFL Gamepass

What happens next?

By keeping Bennett at the line of scrimmage, the Patriots tempt the safety into rushing the pocket which guarantees the middle of the field is free.

This means that all Amendola has to do is beat McCain with a simple seam route and get his hands on the ball.

The pass from Garoppolo ensures that, once the first part is achieved, the second part is easy.

Source: NFL Gamespass

Notes

There’s no doubt that McCain could have done a better job jamming Amendola at the line of scrimmage but, even if the Patriots player was covered, Garaoppolo still had options and, indeed, could have thrown him open given the route run.

Had that option not been available, Edelman (yellow) would have been the likely target after he fooled Maxwell into thinking he was running across the line of scrimmage before breaking back towards the outside.

Source: NFL Gamepass

Even with White (white) clearing out the safety help on that side of the field, Edelman may not have scored a touchdown, but he would have easily had the first down.

In general, this is an example of how good play-calling, as well as trusting your quarterback to make the right decision, can go a long way towards building the confidence of a young player.

That bodes well for the Patriots and Garoppolo when Brady finally hangs up his boots.

Read the rest of the Coaches Film series

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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