The New England Patriots will go 3-1 to start the 2016 NFL season. Due to Tom Brady’s suspension being upheld again today, they are almost certainly going to be forced to use Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback for the first four games. That won’t matter. Jimmy G can handle the load as the starting quarterback for a few games without fail.
Garoppolo was drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 2014, and they have high hopes for him while Brady is out. He was selected that high because they felt like he could learn the offense effectively and manage games if Brady was out, and they see him as the future when Brady is gone.
Well, now Jimmy has his chance to prove himself. And he’ll be going against some of the best defenses in the NFL to do so.
For the first four games, Garoppolo and the Patriots will play the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. They will have to compete with top-line pass rushers like Ndamukong Suh, Calais Campbell, Jerry Hughes and J.J. Watt. They’ll have to make sure that they attack these defenses at their weakest point while utilizing their own strengths.
Basically with Garoppolo, the Patriots need to slot it up with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell. They need to Gronk it up. They need to utilize the Black Unicorn Martellus Bennett. But most of all, they just need to make sure they stick with the same game plan that they would normally have with Brady in the lineup.
No, Garoppolo is not Brady. But there are maybe five other quarterbacks in the history of the NFL who are as good as Brady is. Jimmy G is closer to a poor-man’s Brett Favre with better decision making. He’s got experience in the offense and understands how to utilize his weapons while minimizing mistakes. That defense can carry the team. The running game can carry the team.
Jimmy G just has to make sure that he feeds Rob Gronkowski and Bennett the ball primarily while also stretching the defenses with Mitchell and Amendola when the defensive looks call for it. If there was ever a year for Brady to be out, it’s this year. The Patriots have more than enough weapons for a backup quarterback of Garoppolo’s caliber to succeed with.
And Jimmy G has shown that he can do well with this kind of game plan in preseason games over the past two seasons posting passer ratings over 99.0 and 92.4. He should be fine with some real action this year in similar fashion to 2008 when Matt Cassel led the team to an 11-5 record while Brady was out with a season-long injury.