After the Patriots 2-0 start, there has been a lot of discussion in New England about Thursday Night’s game against the Texans. Who’s going to start? Will Jimmy Garoppolo be available? These are important questions heading into the game. However, the bigger story here is the play of Garoppolo and what that means both short-term and long-term. Before the regular season started, there were mixed reviews on Jimmy G. There were some fans who felt he could be a serviceable NFL starter. There were others who thought he would be replaced by Jacoby Brissett at some point due to poor play. What actually happened in the first game and a half was something that no one expected.
Garoppolo led the Patriots to a 23-21 win in Arizona which was, on paper, the toughest game on the Patriots schedule this season. He was efficient and made the big plays when he needed to in a very difficult place to play. The thought before the game was that the Patriots would lose even if they had Tom Brady. Instead, the Pats won and Garoppolo played great. In game two, he picked apart the Miami defense for 234 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half. He had the look of an elite quarterback. He played with confidence and his ability stood out in just his second NFL game.
While Garoppolo’s overall numbers in the first two weeks stood out with four TD’s, 0 interceptions, and a 117.2 QB rating, it was more about the way he played than the stats. He was poised. He was not rattled under pressure. He was on point with his passes. When the pressure was on, he got better. In fact, he has been the best QB in the NFL on third downs and he torched both the Cardinals and Dolphins when they blitzed. He looked like an All Pro ten year veteran in the first two games of his NFL career. His performance was nothing short of amazing. Then…it happened.
Jimmy G. went down with a shoulder injury and life went out of Gillette Stadium. The Patriots still won the game, but there was still a bad feel. This was a kid that waited two years to get a chance, made the best of it, and then had it all taken away from him. Granted, this may be a very quick turnaround and we may see him again before Week 5 and all we be good.
Since the game ended, a common theme has been the thought that Garoppolo will be traded since he has now proven that he is capable of playing in the NFL. Here are some of the general views from Patriots Nation:
We don’t need him! No one can be better than Tom Brady!
Yes. The “Free Brady” crowd is still going strong. Amazingly, you still here the chants even though Deflategate is over and Brady already accepted his suspension. There are still many fans out there who think Tom Brady is 29, not 39. They think he’s made of steel and this is going to last forever. Father time disagrees and always wins out. Ask Peyton Manning. Ask Brett Favre. 40 is not an age that works in favor for NFL quarterbacks.
Having said that, Brady is still playing at an elite level. The question isn’t whether or not Brady can play at a high level this year. There’s a decent chance that he will. It’s about how he plays moving forward. After the 2017 season, when Brady and Garoppolo can become free agents, Brady will be 41 years old. It’s hard to imagine him keeping up his play two years from now at that age.
It’s just two games!
Ask yourself this question. If you can’t judge Garoppolo on his first two NFL games, then what are you going to judge him on? The practice footage? The preseason games? College? Or, better yet, what have you seen that makes you think that it can’t be sustained? It was very good. What’s more likely, that an NFL QB gets better after his first two NFL games or gets worse?
We can get a first round pick!
These first round picks are treated like gold by the fans and media. Here’s a list of the last five Patriots first round picks: Nate Solder, Chandler Jones, Donta’ Hightower, Dominique Easley, and Malcom Brown. So, there are two hits, two misses, and one player in Solder who has made contributions. Would any of these players be worth what you saw on display the first two weeks? Take a look at the starting quarterbacks around the league. Want to take a shot with the guys you see around the league when Brady is done?! Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson aren’t going to be available so good luck. There isn’t a draft pick that can match the value of a reliable quarterback who hasn’t reached his prime and potential yet.
Jimmy isn’t durable!
OK, we get it. Brady doesn’t typically get hurt. Jimmy did in Week 2. However, it was a freak injury and these happen all of the time in the NFL. It’s not a season ending injury. He’ll be back and we could see him start another game this year.
Here’s the reality. The Patriots coaching staff have been watching this kid develop for the past two and a half years. Bill Belichick already knows if he can play. So does Josh McDaniels. If they think he can play, he isn’t going anywhere. If they don’t, they’ll move on. It’s hard to believe it’s the latter after watching the first two games.
Sorry, Brady crowd. No one player is bigger than the team. It’s the Patriot Way. When Belichick thinks the team is better off moving forward with another quarterback, he’s going to make the change. It may not be this year and it may not even be next, but it’s coming and the Patriots likely already have their guy. They’re not going to get rid of Garoppolo just so that Brady can go into the sunset as a Patriot. It’s all about winning. They move on from players past their prime all the time and they won’t hesitate to do it again if it helps them win football games.
Thought Brady/Bledsoe was interesting? Buckle your seat belts!