CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took a step back in Friday’s 19-17 preseason win against the Carolina Panthers, and Tom Brady was rusty in his preseason debut but delivered one of the few offensive highlights of the night — a 33-yard touchdown to receiver Chris Hogan in the second quarter.
It marked the first time Brady came off the bench since 2001 when he replaced Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the regular season.
Bill Belichick has repeated multiple times in training camp that the team’s priority was getting Garoppolo ready for the regular season as Brady is set to serve a four-game suspension, but that Brady and rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett also were important. How Belichick planned to manage repetitions between the quarterbacks has been a hot-button topic, and this is how it broke down Friday:
Garoppolo started and played the first three series (13 snaps). Brady replaced him for four series (16 snaps), before Garoppolo returned for three more series by playing into the third quarter (14 snaps, not including kneel-downs). Brissett finished the game, entering with 3:48 left in the third quarter, while turning in the most efficient performance playing against Carolina’s backups.
The offense didn’t score under Garoppolo — in part because of a missed 30-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski on the opening drive — and had nine points with Brady at the helm.
Garoppolo finished 9-of-15 for 57 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady was 3-of-9 for 76 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
This was below the normal standard for the usually potent Patriots offense.
A surprise player who impressed: For the third straight week, right tackle Marcus Cannon turned in a performance that didn’t make anyone take note for the wrong reasons. With starter Sebastian Vollmer likely to land on injured reserve, according to the Boston Globe, the Patriots might have to rely on Cannon.
Who got hurt? The Patriots appeared to come out of the game clean.
Maybe that player could start: The Browns have this receiver who will be suspended the first four games of the season. Guy named Gordon, first name Josh. Guy who’s tall, can run like a gazelle, has amazing ability to get balls that are up for grabs and who makes a quarterback better. Jackson probably can’t wait for the fifth game.
Who got hurt? Cornerback Justin Gilbert left the game in the second quarter with a concussion. Backup receiver and special teams standout Marlon Moore left in the first half with a hip injury.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Browns looked … : Brutally overmatched, which isn’t good given this is the “key” preseason game. At one point, the Bucs were doing everything they wanted and led 27-3 with six minutes left in the second quarter. Consider these first half stats: Winston threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs had 305 yards to 163 for the Browns. And the Bucs passing game produced 259 yards to the Browns’ 98. Big plays to Gordon or no big plays, this was a dud.
One reason to be concerned: Danny Shelton was the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft, the first of two first-round picks. Though he forced a second-half fumble, he has not been very visible in preseason. Whether that is cause for concern is up for debate, but Shelton has gone two games in a row in which he played in the third quarter. That is not typical for starters.
Protection or decisions? On two third downs in the first half, Griffin was sacked. On both, he had time to throw and either saw nobody to throw to or did not make a decision. Or, according to Jackson, he ran out of time. “We’re not holding the ball too long,” Jackson said. The concern: That kind of play from the pocket cost Griffin his job in Washington. He has the confidence of his coach in Cleveland, but it would have been nice to see him make a throw from the pocket. His big plays in the preseason have all been on throws when he flung it deep to receivers running down the sideline.