A year ago at this time, Jimmy Garoppolo became one of several draft-darling quarterbacks, with many prognosticators touting the relative unknown as an early-round pick after his time at Eastern Illinois.
In his first season, Garoppolo showed some promise in his few opportunities. According to Garoppolo's personal quarterback coach Jeff Christensen, the signal-caller is ready to attack his second year.
"I talked to Bill (Belichick) at the combine, and I asked him how Jimmy was doing," Christensen told WEEI.com in a recent phone conversation. "He said '(Jimmy) looks like a linebacker. He works out like a linebacker. He acts like a linebacker. I really like him a lot, coach. You did a great job with him. Thank you.' "
In the world of flattery, only Bill Belichick gets away with comparing a quarterback to a linebacker in complimentary fashion.
In his rookie season, Garoppolo appeared in six games, completed 19 of 27 passes (70.4 percent) for 182 yards and one touchdown. Christensen said he's working with the quarterback to fine tune his mechanics ahead of the Patriots' offseason work.
"I think he did very well," Christensen said of Garoppolo's first season. "Over the first two weeks of camp he didn't look good, but I think over the third and fourth week of the preseason, he made real improvement, and that's what Bill wants to see. Jimmy is a smart kid who just wants to learn, and he's well aware of how good a situation he's in right now."
Garoppolo's situation is to learn from Brady and be ready if a devastating injury strikes. Otherwise, the backup's job is to impress during preseason and try to boost his trade value over the next several years.