Before the 2016 NFL Draft anyone in New England could have told you that Jimmy Garoppolo was the highest drafted quarterback by the Patriots (62nd overall pick) since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 and was clearly Tom’s heir apparent. However, with the selection of Jacoby Brissett, in the 3rd round this year, some were left scratching their heads asking “Did they really need a quarterback?” and “Is Jimmy still the guy in Foxborough?” The answer, of course, is a resounding “yes”. Both young quarterbacks are brimming with potential, but I firmly believe that Jimmy G will be the primary backup in New England and still holds the most value out of the two. Having said that, let’s dive right in and take a closer look at Mr. Garoppolo.
Time at Eastern Illinois
In his Senior campaign Garoppolo broke Tony Romo’s school records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season, as well as overall career passing touchdowns at Eastern Illinois. It should be noted that he also won the Walter Payton award, which is given to the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Jimmy flashed great ability with a strong arm, an ability to move inside and outside of the pocket, a great work ethic and a beautiful touch on the ball, so it was no wonder that he had Belichick salivating all the way up in Foxborough.
After starting only 8 games in his freshman year he went on to start every game thereafter, passing for 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011. He would go onto throw for 3,823 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2012 and an amazing 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns in 2013. After looking through his numbers and studying his game film, it was abundantly clear that this kid was dripping with potential and was going to go on to be a special player for somebody, somewhere, sometime. Needing a good backup and perhaps a future heir to their franchise QB, the Patriots could not afford to let him slip through their fingers in the 2nd round.
Playing at the NFL Level
We all have to keep in mind that Jimmy has primarily only seen preseason action coupled with very limited action in the regular season, when the Patriots were either blowing a team out or getting blown out themselves (Kansas City game in 2014). Nevertheless, he had flashed enough of his ability during preseason games to give the Patriot coach staff the confidence in putting him on the field. In fact, it was against the Kansas City Chiefs that he made his presence felt. Late in a game where Brady had thrown multiple interceptions and simply couldn’t get anything going through the air, Garoppolo relieved him and would go onto complete 6 of 7 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, marching the Patriots up the field quickly and efficiently. He’s also credited for helping the Patriots go on to win the Super Bowl, by effectively simulating what Russel Wilson could do to their very own defense during practices. From such a limited sample size, I think everyone can see that New England might not be such a dark, gloomy fantasy wasteland when Brady retires or during his upcoming 4 game suspension this season.
Let’s not forget that he also has a supporting cast of proven difference makers such as; Gronkowski, Bennett and the sure-handed Edelman. Sure, some can still argue that the drafting of Jacoby Brissett hurts his dynasty value and in a way that’s true. However, I would argue that those same people need to keep in mind that Brissett was drafted as depth for the preseason and the four games that they will be without Brady heading into the season. Parcells and others weren’t at all shy about how much they loved the Brissett pick in recent interviews and although he may be able to turn into a decent QB at the NFL level, the Patriots would not have drafted him if not for their need for depth at the position. It’s also been reported that they were looking at several other QB’s, at that spot, including Joel Stave of Wisconsin who ended up going undrafted before signing with the Vikings.
The workload, numerous assignments and the very system that Belichick has in place causes a lot of offensive rookies to burn out early in Foxborough, especially at wide receiver. Jimmy, however, seemed to thrive. Roaming the hallways calling out plays to the rest of the offensive cast asking them “What’s your job on this route?” or “Where are you supposed to be on this play?” This was cause for him to be lauded as a hardworking and determined young player for the Patriots organization and their future at the position (after their star retires). Drawing comparisons to Brady in his preparation and work ethic, Garoppolo is sure to do just fine. Have I mentioned that those close to Brady say that he is “threatened by the young QB’s potential”? There have also been rumors of him being traded for draft picks and so forth, but Belichick will not relinquish such a promising young player for a gamble in the draft pure and simple. In my view, if anyone is to be traded in the years to come, it will likely be Brissett going to a team in need.
The Wrap Up
Whether you need him as a backup for Brady, for the first four games this season, or you’re looking for a rising star at the position years down the road, fear not, because Jimmy fits the bill. Keep in mind that he will only be guaranteed four games this year and may not see action again until Brady’s contract is up in 2019, but after he makes his debut as a starter this season, his sheer potential will be too great for some to ignore. After a very tough challenge in week 1, against an ever improving Cardinals defense and the three games to follow, we will have much more of a concrete idea of the young quarterback’s capabilities, but for now, you will likely see him on waiver wires or should at least be able to acquire him for a relatively low price. If you are a Brady owner, lacking solid depth at quarterback, you simply MUST have him on your roster heading into this season.
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