Still, the second-year passer is one of DeflateGate's big winners. Seeing practice snaps and game reps with a rash of New England starters, Garoppolo played more football through three weeks of the preseason than any quarterback outside of Pittsburgh's Landry Jones.
We prepared this film study piece knowing that Garoppolo might start the opener and beyond. With Brady set free, the scenery has changed, but why not take a look at what Garoppolo accomplished this August.
Let's go game by game:
Preseason, Week 1 vs. Packers
Garoppolo's debut was a rough one.
Sacked seven times, he threw for just 5.3 yards per attempt and struggled to find chemistry with his wideouts.
Especially with Josh Boyce, who caught just two of the eight passes thrown his way and has since been waived. It's worth noting that Garoppolo was 18-of-21 passing for 140 yards on lobs not aimed toward Boyce, but his nine possessions netted one long rushing touchdown, a field goal, four punts, two failed fourth-down attempts and a pick.
We saw a young quarterback who held the ball too long behind a patchwork line. Garoppolo's lone pick nearly turned into three, with Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins nearly intercepting him twice. Jimmy played uncomfortably -- showing jitters in the pocket -- and lacked some of the poise we saw in brief showings last season.
Preseason, Week 2 vs. Saints
Garoppolo bounced back against the Saints with an efficient performance capped by a game-winning march.
With fewer misguided deep shots, the Patriots backup stood in the pocket to go 28-of-33 passing for 269 yards with a touchdown and a pick. The interception came off one of his few long ropes downfield. This time around, Garoppolo made his money finding targets over the middle and at the sticks.
After the scoring pass, we charted Garoppolo completing 17-of-21 passes to finish the game. It wasn't all dumpoff action, either, as he hit on throws of 15, 20, 22 and 24 yards to finish at 8.2 yards per attempt.
At one point, Garoppolo led the Patriots on three straight touchdown drives, including an efficient two-minute scoring drill that saw him guide New England 80 yards in just five plays. He later followed up that lone interception with two straight drives ending in field goals -- including the game-winner. Garoppolo played with confidence.
Preseason, Week 3 vs. Panthers
Garoppolo struggled out of the gate against Carolina's defense, nearly throwing interceptions on two of his first three passes. Beyond those ugly lobs, he finished 11-of-15 with a touchdown.
Playing the entire second half, Garoppolo erased a six-point Carolina lead in the second half by guiding New England to a touchdown and field goal. It was promising to see him bring the Patriots from behind for a second time in as many games. Garoppolo made one beautiful throw down the sidelines to Aaron Dobson to set up his lone touchdown pass and also showed good decision-making by breaking out of the pocket on a pair of scrambles for positive yards.
After the rough start, Garoppolo settled down and showed the ability to set his feet and scan the field. He found players at the sticks and generated points.
Where Garoppolo stands
There's more work to do -- against first-string defenses, not scrubs -- but it was encouraging to see Garoppolo grow with each game.
He's far from a finished product, but his better stretches of accuracy and quick decision-making show promise. He's easily one of the league's more promising backups.