FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — So what’s next for the New England Patriots? Or, maybe more precisely, who’s next?

The Patriots won their second game of the season Sunday afternoon, pushing back the Miami Dolphins 31-24. But that was the secondary story line coming out of the game.

Of more importance is the Patriots’ quarterback situation. It took a drastic turn for the worse Sunday when Jimmy Garoppolo – playing because Tom Brady is suspended for the first four games of the season – left in the second quarter because of an injury to his right shoulder.

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reported that Garoppolo was still undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury, but that he would miss Thursday’s game against the Houston Texans.

That would leave rookie Jacoby Brissett as the lone quarterback on New England’s roster, unless the Patriots make some sort of temporary move – who’s out there? T.J. Yates? Ryan Lindley? – for a backup.

As usual, Coach Bill Belichick was less than expansive when asked what the team’s plans are.


“We’ll do whatever we think is best for the team,” he said.

Of course.

The Patriots do have a former college quarterback on their roster, some guy named Julian Edelman.

But since he’s among the most valuable slot receivers in the game, it’s unlikely that they would consider moving him.

But the Patriots do need another backup right? Just in case Brissett gets injured, right?

We’ll see.


The Patriots have never been shy about trying something unorthodox. And, frankly, it’s going to be really difficult to bring someone in and have them ready by Thursday.

And if it’s just Brissett, well, the team has confidence in him.

“He’s very mature, very poised, especially for a millennial,” said Edelman, drawing laughs, then asking, “Am I a millennial?”

Brissett, 22, was drafted in the third round, the 91st player selected last April out of North Carolina State. He was considered to have a strong arm with the ability to make plays on the run as well.

What the Patriots have found out is that he’s also quite mature. That’s a theme that was repeated throughout the locker room Sunday.

“I think Jacoby has a great deal of maturity for a young player,” said Matthew Slater, New England’s special teams captain. “Maybe it’s the position. Those guys tend to be a little bit more on top of things when they first get in the building. But I think he’s done a great job of learning.”


The Patriots are certainly confident in his ability.

“Look, he’s been working for this for a long time, all the way back to the spring, all the way through training camp,” said Belichick. “He’s gotten a lot of reps. He did a good job, pressure situation, played two-and-a-half quarters and he did a good job.”

He’s not Tom Brady, and he’s not Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo had thrown for three touchdowns while completing 18 of 27 passes for 234 yards before he was injured with just over four minutes left in the second quarter.

Garoppolo, like Brissett swift on his feet, had run out of the pocket to his right to throw a completion to Malcolm Mitchell.

After he released the ball, he was hit by Kiko Alonso and slammed onto his right shoulder. Garoppolo got up, grimaced, tried to get off the field, then kneeled while medical personnel attended to him.

In came Brissett. According to veteran left tackle Nate Solder, nothing changed.


“We were all business,” he said. “When Jacoby came in, he called the play, we got to the line and we played it like we always do.”

After all, said Solder, it doesn’t matter who is at quarterback. Everyone has got a job to do.

“You’ve just got to be good, you’ve got to play good,” said Solder, making his first start since last Oct. 11 when he suffered an arm injury against Dallas. “Like always, we’ve got to protect, we’ve got to run the ball, we’ve got to do the things we always do.”

Then, he added, “Maybe a little more weight fell on (the offensive line’s) shoulders today.”

That’s because the game plan was simplified when Brissett took over.

In the first half, the Patriots attempted 29 passes for 234 yards and ran the ball 17 times for 56 yards. In the second half, Brissett threw seven passes (completing six) for 92 yards and ran the ball 21 times for 105 yards.


Not that Brissett didn’t have to make some plays. New England converted 3 of 5 third-down plays in the second half, and Brissett twice gained first downs with a sneak and also scrambled for a first down.

“He handled it well,” said Edelman. “He called the plays, made the plays when he had to, went out and was comfortable with what he was doing.”

For his part, Brissett acted like a seasoned Patriots veteran when the media scrum surged around his locker.

“I felt prepared and did enough for us to secure the win,” he said.

He feels bad for Garoppolo – they all do given how hard he worked to get to this point – but knew he had to be ready if his time came – and, given life in the NFL, it came sooner than anyone could have expected.

“I hope he’s well, but you’ve got to go when it’s time to go,” he said. “You’ve just got to make sure you’re ready to go.”

So who will be his backup Thursday?

“I absolutely cannot play quarterback, so we’ll get that clear,” said Slater. “That’s something that Coach is going to have to handle … We just have to get ready with the guys that are in there.”


Comments are no longer available on this story