Ryan Mallett came under the microscope last week in joint practices with the Redskins when NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that Mallett "popped" and looked like a legitimate starting-caliber NFL quarterback.
In an interview with WEEI on Monday morning, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't disagree. He explained that he and his teammates have faith that Mallett could be an effective starter if called upon.
"Ryan just needs an opportunity," Brady said. "He hasn't had a chance over the last few years to get in there and show what he can do. But I've always loved working with Ryan. He's got great ability to be able to step in there and do the job, and I think everybody has a lot of confidence that he can do it. He just hasn't had the chance."
Mallett didn't quite make good on the Mayock-initiated hype when the Patriots and Redskins played their first preseason game of the summer on Thursday night. The 6-foot-6 signal-caller finished 5-for-12 for 55 yards, and the Patriots offense did not score in the first half with Mallett taking snaps.
"You can't judge anybody based on one half of the first preseason game," Brady said. "I think you have to look at the total body of work. That's how the coaches have always evaluated it. Everybody's trying to get better at this point. Nobody has it all figured out. You haven't played real football in seven, eight months. You gotta use all these opportunities to refresh certain things. You can make mistakes in practice, then learn from that and not make them again. That's the important thing about playing quarterback. You can't continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. The whole offense is counting on you to do the right thing. That's something as quarterbacks we strive to do everyday in practice. Then when it comes up in a game you gotta be able to go out there and execute."
From our perspective, part of what has led to some less-than-stellar evaluations of Mallett's game is that he appears to have some of the same issues that he's displayed in years past. He has tremendous arm strength, but his touch on shorter routes is sometimes too strong. Though he has been praised by Brady and coach Bill Belichick for his understanding of the offense, the time it takes for Mallett to make his reads seems to sometimes require a few extra beats.
Granted we haven't seen every practice repetition Mallett has taken in the three seasons previous, which Brady has. But there is certainly still room for improvement in Mallett's game, as Brady suggested is the case for all quarterbacks.
Mallett missed Sunday's training camp practice -- the first since Thursday's game. The team will practice again on Monday afternoon before beginning joint practices with the Eagles on Tuesday.