If New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is suspended by the NFL for his role in the team’s football-deflation scandal, as Gary Myers of the New York Daily News reported on Friday, sophomore Jimmy Garoppolo looks like the player who will step in and start for the four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.
Should that suspension come down this week or at any time before the start of the 2015 season, Garoppolo will be prepared for his unexpected new role. His personal quarterback coach, Jeff Christiansen, will make sure of that. Christiansen spoke to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald on Friday about Garoppolo’s ability to step in and start. He said that working with and learning from Brady will be what gets Garoppolo to the point that he’s confident in his abilities:
From the exchanges I’ve had with Jimmy, I can tell you Tom’s been great with him, and helping him understand NFL defenses, along with the offense. He’s got nothing but great things to say about the whole situation. He feels very fortunate. With Tom’s professionalism and willingness to help the kid, I’m sure he’ll do real well if that happens.
Christiansen also noted that Brady benefitted similarly from veteran Drew Bledsoe early in Brady’s career: “Drew was a very bright guy, and passed on some stuff to Tom when he got hurt.” He added, “With the defenses now, there’s always adjustments, and adjustments inside adjustments, and so on. It’s an ever-changing thing. That’s why he feels fortunate to have Tom and [Patriots head coach] Bill [Belichick] on his side.”
Garoppolo saw some regular-season playing time as a rookie, appearing late in games that had already been in the Patriots’ grasp. He completed 19 of 27 passes, for 182 yards and one touchdown, thrown in Week 4. But now, he’s staring down the possibility of starting for two, four or even six games in 2015.
Given that Garoppolo is so green—and the fact that the Patriots have only three quarterbacks on their roster heading into training camp—it’s possible that the team goes with a more proven commodity to start the season, regardless of how Garoppolo has progressed as a player. ESPN’s Mike Reiss threw out the possibility of former Green Bay Packers backup passer Matt Flynn. Other veteran free agent quarterbacks include Michael Vick, Tarvaris Jackson, Jason Campbell and the retired (but potentially not permanently) Kyle Orton.
Regardless of Brady’s eventual fate, it does look like the Patriots will be in the market to add a quarterback to their ranks. If Garoppolo gets the nod to start in Brady’s stead, then a younger, less-experienced rookie free agent type could be their solution to this problem, but if Garoppolo is not yet ready, expect a veteran face to turn up in New England in the coming weeks.
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