NE-ARI grades: Garoppolo fills in capably for Brady

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Patriots' Week 1 win over the Cardinals.

| 9 months ago
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

NE-ARI grades: Garoppolo fills in capably for Brady

New England Patriots 23, Arizona Cardinals 23

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the New England Patriots’ 23-21 Sunday Night Football Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals:

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer, 69.4

Palmer clutch, but plagued by inconsistency

Simply glancing at the box score, you’d likely take away the notion that QB Carson Palmer began his season strong for Arizona. For the most part, you’d be correct. Palmer connected on 17-of-19 attempts and both of his scoring strikes under 10 yards. However, Palmer’s grade (69.4) fell short of what we’ve come to expect from the veteran signal caller, as he only found a single receiver beyond 20 yards — a 39-yarder to Michael Floyd — and his accuracy dipped on throws of 10 yards or more.


Top offensive grades:

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 83.8

RB David Johnson, 80.2

C A.Q. Shipley, 77.4

TE Jermaine Gresham, 77.0

G Evan Mathis, 75.8

WR Michael Floyd, 73.6

David Johnson submits further evidence for a breakout season

The Cardinals’ brass must be pleased with the performance of their second-year back out of Northern Iowa, who came forward on the biggest stage to earn Arizona’s second-highest PFF grade (80.2). Johnson was not only consistently productive throughout the contest, he generated a fourth-quarter, spinning, stiff-arming 45-yard run that might have convinced several Patriot defenders that he had harnessed the power of invisibility. En route to a 121.9 elusive rating, Johnson secured each of his six receiving targets to amass 132 total yards and a touchdown.

Top defensive grades:

SS Tony Jefferson, 83.2

CB Patrick Peterson, 81.4

DI Calais Campbell, 81.4

LB Kevin Minter, 81.1

ED Markus Golden, 78.1

Patriots play it safe, avoid Peterson

While nobody would blame New England for working around CB Patrick Peterson — especially considering QB Jimmy Garoppolo was making the first replacement start for the suspended Tom Brady — it still served the purpose of confirming utmost respect for the former first-rounder. Playing 37 snaps in coverage, Peterson allowed a mere 0.35 yards per coverage snap and didn’t allow a single yard after contact.

New England Patriots

Quarterback grade: Jimmy Garoppolo, 68.7

Garoppolo far from Brady-esque, but enough to secure victory

Perhaps the most polarizing player in the NFL at the moment, QB Jimmy Garoppolo began the nearly impossible quest to temporarily replace the anointed one with a hard-fought victory over a respected opponent. Garoppolo’s play exposed several areas of weakness but, when provided with a clean pocket, he connected on 20-of-26 attempts for 216 yards, one touchdown and a 113.6 NFL QB rating. Certainly a performance to build on over the next three weeks while keeping the seat warm for their All-Pro superstar.

Top offensive grades:

WR Julian Edelman, 75.4

WR Danny Amendola, 73.6

WR Chris Hogan, 73.0

RB James White, 71.5

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 68.7

Patriot receiver depth a strength?

Many were left wondering if New England would possess the pieces at wideout to contend for a title run and the results, impressive. Julian Edelman (75.4) was clearly the superior talent at receiver, but Danny Amendola (73.6) was able to prove his health and effectiveness, newly signed Chris Hogan (73.0) showcased his worth with a 37-yard touchdown reception and even fourth-rounder Malcolm Mitchell — who suffered a gruesome elbow dislocation in preseason Week 1 — displayed promise with 33 receiving yards, 21 after the catch. RB James White (71.5) collected each of his five targets to partially prove his ability to replace the injured Dion Lewis and did so with style — 38-of-40 yards collected after the catch.

Top defensive grades:

LB Jamie Collins, 84.8

ED Chris Long, 82.7

ED Jabaal Sheard, 79.4

ED Trey Flowers, 78.7

LB Don’t’a Hightower, 73.9

New England pass rush dictates game flow

The Patriots were able to control the bread-basket of Arizona, the vertical passing game, by forcing discomfort on QB Carson Palmer with a ruthlessly consistent pass rush. Arizona dropped back to pass on 40 plays Sunday night and New England was able to pressure those attempts on 15 occasions as well as adding a batted pass. The Patriots top defensive grades highlight just how effective the strategy played out, with LB Jamie Collins (84.8) steadily assaulting the offensive rhythm and ED Chris Long (82.7) scoring two sacks while presenting the NFLs fourth-best pass-rushing productivity from a 4-3 defensive end from Week 1.


| Analyst

Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.

  • Patrick

    The Peterson statistic is one side of the story. He couldn’t tackle leblount in the open field and gave up huge yardage but that doesn’t count against his coverage score.

    • Bill Doerr

      Huge yardage?? It was a 10yd run ….. Peterson missed the tackle but he is a CB, Blount is a 250pd RB and one of the most powerful runners in the league. Petersons job is to cover, and no one does it better.

      • Jack Casey

        Thats the difference between Patriots defense and.some other teams… BB to McCourty when be was drafted in 2011: ” We don’t have “cover” corners. You WILL tackle.”

        • Bill Doerr

          99.9% of the time Peterson is an awesome tackler, you missed my point , the guy is a 250pd power RB. Id pay to see McCourty make that tackle when Blount has a running start as he did last night. McCourty is nowhere near the caliber CB Peterson and Fitzgerald absolutely abused Logan Ryan so I wouldn’t be hyping your CBs right now.

          • Sam Serra

            McCourty is not a CB he’s a free safety, and one of the best in the league. But i absolutely agree with your other points. Peterson was barely seen during most of the game, this is sign that he didn’t let anyone even slightly open for Garoppolo to try to throw at, Peterson has been arguably the best CB in the league since last season.

          • Brandon Stanley

            our CBs are perfectly fine my friend, pretty sure Palmer got dick almost all game long. Fitz is one of the greatest, most technically sound wideouts in NFL history, and on multiple catches Ryan was all over him, provided fantastic coverage, but Fitz made the plays simply because he is an unreal receiver. Macolm Butler is a legitimate top corner and Logan Ryan is a good, not great, number 2. Which I would take over having Peterson and a running back from TA&M as our top two guys..

  • Rory426

    How come Garoppolo grades 68.7 here but 55.8 in the player grades section of the site? Does that include preseason?

    • Sam Serra

      Indeed this is weird, i checked Sunday just after the game and he was exactly 68, now he’s 55. Wtf PFF?

      • Jim

        Has PFF answered this question? Or does anyone else know the answer? I’ve noticed this with other players as well.

        • Sam Serra

          Nope, i tried to ask them in another article and looks like they deleted my post.

  • Petey’s Head

    Interesting to see such low grades for the Patriots run defense, specifically in the interior (average grade 48). I thought the defense played great against the run. Excluding that crazy 45 yard run David Johnson (which was initially stuffed), the Pats held the Cardinals to 47 total yards for 2.6 per. I haven’t watched the tape or anything but those grades surprised me given the play. Maybe Collins, Hightower and Sheard just had that good of a day.