FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jimmy Garoppolo put the strap of his bag over his left shoulder in the New England Patriots’ locker room and prepared to exit following the team’s 22-11 preseason-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers late Thursday night.
His media obligations -- a news conference and some one-on-one interviews -- concluded, he stopped briefly to shake the hand of a reporter and shook his head from side to side at the same time.
“Just upset,” he said. “Eleven points isn’t good enough. Any time you lose …”
Garoppolo was taking it hard. He had hoped for better.
That was the biggest behind-the-scenes takeaway Thursday night. While Garoppolo’s performance will be analyzed across the six New England states and beyond as many consider how things might look with him at the controls for the first four regular-season games if Tom Brady’s suspension isn’t overturned, no one, it seems, will be more critical of it than Garoppolo himself.
Two things that seemed to bother him most were the inability to connect on the deep ball like he did in last year’s preseason opener in Washington and holding on to the ball too long at times to negate some of the pressure dialed up by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
“Ups and downs, got a long way to go obviously,” he said after being sacked seven times and finishing 20-of-30 for 159 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Garoppolo entered the game with six seconds remaining in the first quarter in relief of surprise starter Brady (seven snaps) and played the rest of the way. He said he was given no advance notice of whether he’d start or relieve Brady, which is commonplace in New England.
“We don’t really [have] any heads up,” he said.
His work included a sequence at the end of the second quarter that Bill Belichick couldn’t have drawn up much better from a “situational football” standpoint -- ball on the Packers’ 49-yard line, one timeout remaining, 53 seconds on the clock.
Those are the types of situations that Belichick regularly creates in practice, but it still doesn’t match having to react quickly in a game setting. Garoppolo helped move the offense to the 31, but the progress was slowed by a sack (could he have gotten rid of the ball and saved time?) and ultimately led to Garoppolo spiking the ball on third down and the team settling on a Stephen Gostkowski 56-yard field goal.
Afterward, on the sideline, Belichick was seen reviewing the situation with Garoppolo.
“If we had enough time, we wanted to get another play off,” Garoppolo explained. “But the clock was running down.”
At the half, Garoppolo was 5-of-13 for 63 yards, as he seemed to be forcing the ball down the field at times to receiver Josh Boyce. He adjusted after the first series of the second half and was 15-of-17 in the final two quarters, seemingly benefiting from staying away from Boyce down the field and focusing on a shorter passing game.
His one interception came on a throw where Boyce was tightly covered by cornerback LaDarius Gunter along the left sideline.
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “He got grabbed a little bit, the ball gets tipped up and it’s unfortunate. Throwing an interception is inexcusable. That’s on me.”
Garoppolo seemed to put it all on himself after this one, a harsh self-critic who hoped for more Thursday night.