Even with Tom Brady appealing his 4-game suspension handed down by the NFL, he’s still going to miss at least one game. With that being the case, you’re going to need to know who Jimmy Garoppolo is.
For the first time since Week 2 of the 2001 season when Drew Bledsoe took the field (and the Pats had never won a Super Bowl), the Patriots are going to start a QB not named Tom Brady or Matt Cassel (who filled in for Brady in the 2008 season when he tore his ACL).
Let’s start with what’s most important and work our way down. There will be no drop off in the looks department, as Garoppolo can match Brady as the most handsome player on the field. So the Patriots are safe there.
Moving on to actual performance on the field, Garoppolo is still a giant question mark. But he’s a question mark with a ton of potential.
Garoppolo went to Eastern Illinois, a small school where he wasn’t tested much, but still broke many of Tony Romo’s records and dominated the competition. He threw for 13,156 yards, 118 TDs and 51 INTs in his career at EIU.
In his senior season in 2013, Jimmy G led the EIU Panthers to a 12-2 overall record (8-0 in conference), throwing for an absurd 5,050 yards and 53 TDs. Those numbers elevated Garoppolo to one of the more intriguing QB prospects in the 2014 NFL draft. Intriguing enough that the Patriots made him the highest selected QB of the Belichick era with the No. 62 overall pick.
There was some hype this offseason that Garoppolo would have been the third ranked QB prospect in the 2015 draft (behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota) and that some teams were considering offering a first-round pick to the Pats in exchange for him. New England is probably happy to have passed on that deal if it was indeed out there.
Small school QBs often have problems adjusting to the NFL, though. Obviously, we will find out on a much bigger stage when the Patriots host the Steelers to kick off the season in the national Thursday night game, but so far Garoppolo has been solid.
If you combine his scattered preseason and regular season statistics from his rookie season, Garoppolo completed 65-of-106 attempts for 800 yards and 6 TDs, while only tossing one pick.
I predicted last week that Brady would be suspended, but also said that it wouldn’t hurt the Patriots. The thought process being that Jimmy Garoppolo is good enough to get the Patriots through their first four games with a record of AT LEAST 2-2. In the meantime, the Pats also benefit from either displaying their young stud for the rest of the league to fall in love with, or learn that Garoppolo is not their QB of the future, as they’re hoping.
If I had to guess, I’d say Garropolo is going to gain a lot of fans once the 2015 season gets underway.
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