By: Jake Mackey
After 15 excruciating long months of deflated football and legal document talk, the majority of rational Patriots fans are ready to except the fact that Tom Brady will sit out four weeks because the NFL commissioner simply used him to set a precedent of his power. While that is extremely frustrating as a Patriots fan, there is no reason to continue to let it consume your life. Trying to exonerate Tom Brady in the eyes of the national community is like talking to a brick wall. Your going to get the same response every time, a whole lot of nothing.
There are a few small silver-linings in this four-game suspension of Mr. Brady. For one, Tom Brady will have to face four less weeks of defensive lineman trying to take his head off. In previous seasons, the Patriots offensive line has usually come out of the gate pretty rough with a lot of rotational work. It’s better to use a 24-year old quarterback as a tackling dummy for opposing defenses, as opposed to your soon to be 39-year old hall of fame starter. Ah, that bring’s me to my next point. New England fans gets to see Jimmy Garoppolo for a quarter of an NFL season, and see what he looks like in real game situations against real NFL talent. Hooray?
Most Patriots fans over the past couple of days all seem to have the same mentality. “Jimmy G will still go 3-1.” Really? What makes you think that as a fan? The Patriots may very well go 3-1 without Tom Brady. They went 11-5 with Matt Cassell for an entire season in 2008, but that wasn’t because Cassell was playing at a Pro-Bowl level. If the Patriots tread water without Brady it will be because they have other elite players such as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennent, Dont’a Hightower, and Devin McCourty leading the way, along with head coach Bill Belichick.
If fans are already expecting Jimmy Garoppolo to carry the Patriots to a 3-1 or 2-2 record over the first four weeks, they are delusional because he has shown nothing to prove that he can so. Fans saw hardly any of Garoppolo in 2015, and in 2014 the only times they saw him were in blowout situations when the opposing defense’s had their second-string players on the field. However, there was one game in 2014 where Garoppolo played for almost two full quarters against starters, and that was week 17 against Buffalo at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots already had the one seed locked in, therefore they had nothing to play for, and Buffalo was playing for their first winning season in ten years.
In that game Jimmy Garoppolo went 10-17, for 90 yards, with zero touchdown passes, and a quarterback rating of 15.1. In addition, when Garoppolo came into the game at the start of the third quarter the Patriots were down 17-6. Garoppolo could only manage in two quarters to narrow the lead to 17-9. Throughout the afternoon, Garoppolo frantically ran around in the pocket, holding onto the ball too long, and eventually took off in a scramble. He had 16 rushing yards on the day, including one on third and long where he ran backwards about ten yards, and then managed to find an opening of about twenty-yards for the first down, in true gunslinger form. Not exactly what the Patriots offense is all about.
(GIF Credit: Sportsblog.com)
The hope is that Garoppolo has grown as a quarterback over the past two off seasons. Furthermore, the fact that Tom Brady was facing a four-game suspension throughout last year’s training camp gave Garoppolo much needed reps with the Patriots first team offense. Although, from my point of view being there for the majority of practices, there wasn’t much of an improvement in Garoppolo’s game from year one to year two.
In the end, if Jimmy Garoppolo shows some blips in week one on Sunday Football in the, “Bird’s Nest” fans should not attack him like they would if Tom Brady were to have a bad game, because he’s not Tom Brady. He is a 24-year old quarterback who has never been in the spotlight, and that is what Patriots fans should expect to see in the first four weeks of the 2016 regular season. The Patriots will be successful in the first quarter of the season because their veteran players and hall of fame head coach will carry them, not Jimmy Garoppolo.