FOXBOROUGH — Jimmy Garoppolo has had an inconsistent preseason so far with the Patriots, at times looking like a legitimate NFL starting quarterback and other times throwing bad interceptions as he struggles with his reads.
But Garoppolo, now in his third NFL preseason, has certainly impressed the two most important people in the Patriots organization — Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
"I think Jimmy's got a good presence for the position. I think he always has," Belichick said Monday afternoon as the Patriots prepared to practice against the Chicago Bears. "Every player develops throughout the course of their career as they gain experience. That's no different for him or anybody else. But I think his demeanor's good."
Garoppolo is preparing for an unusual opportunity for a Patriots backup quarterback: the chance to actually start a game. No quarterbacks other than Brady and Matt Cassel have started for the Patriots since the start of the 2002 season, but Garoppolo will start the first four games of this season while Brady serves his Deflategate suspension.
Garoppolo started last Thursday's preseason opener against the Saints, and played inconsistently. He started slow, but finished 11 of 18 for 168 yards while leading two scoring drives.
Belichick went into detail when asked what it means for Garoppolo to have good presence and demeanor.
"Make calls, make adjustments, do the right thing that other people are counting on them to do," Belichick said. "Doing that with poise. There's a thousand things — maybe 10 things on every play."
On Sunday, Brady said he has enjoyed watching Garoppolo develop and said he has worked hard for his opportunity.
"He works his tail off to prepare, and I know he has the respect of everybody," Brady said. "I think that's what you always do — you try to come out here and earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches, and you've got to put the work in. You've got to show that you're willing to show up every day and do whatever it takes to get the job done."
Belichick agreed that Garoppolo's work ethic has earned him respect in the organization.
"I think that happened Day 1 when he came here," Belichick said. "He's always done that. I don't think it's been any different this year. I think he's grown this year, but I don't think his approach has been any different. And I think he does have [respect], I would agree with that."