On Monday a federal appeals court reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension which was revoked last season following the “deflategate” scandal. This will mark the first time a QB not named Tom Brady will start under center for the Patriots since 2001.
With Brady on the bench, enter Jimmy Garoppolo. The 3rd year QB out of Eastern Illinois is a player the organization is extremely high on. The 2014 2nd round pick has been used sparingly, however, he has put together a solid, but minimal stat-line with nearly 200 passing yards, 1 TD with 0 INTs and a 65% completion percentage. His work ethic and mental makeup have been raved about – two traits that will benefit him greatly off the bench. Sitting behind Tom Brady and having learned from him, that’s another plus.
While arm strength certainly isn’t a positive regarding Garoppolo’s skillset, he has a very accurate arm and will fit right in with New England’s which features guys like Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan – not to mention Rob Gronkowski who makes any QB’s job easier. Regarding the trio of receivers, they all excel on underneath routes – something Garoppolo is going to throw a lot of. He will rack-up yardage on those short passes, but will have the luxury of connecting with Rob Gronkowski in the redzone and downfield heaves. Not to mention, the Patriots offer a solid receiving threat out of the backfield in Dion Lewis and will also add weapons through the draft.
In the passing game, Garoppolo is set when it comes to weapons and what will be asked of him. He offers even more than that and a factor that Brady lacks. At 6’2”/225, Garoppolo has above average athleticism, can move around well and can even scramble if you need him to – that’s extra fantasy points right there.
Now taking a look at who Garoppolo will be matched up with is where it gets a little tricky. His first career NFL start will be on the road against one of the best teams in the league in the Arizona Cardinals. He will go against one of the league’s best secondarys, along with one of the game’s best pass rushers in Chandler Jones, the former Patriot. You know Jones is going to want nothing more than to wreak havoc against his former team. Not an ideal matchup in his first start.
After that road game, Garoppolo will play in Foxborough for the remainder of Brady’s injury. First he’ll face a depleted Miami defense which is the most favorable matchup in the four games. It gets much tougher in week 3 against J.J. Watt and the improved Houston Texans on primetime. Garoppolo finishes his tour with the Buffalo Bills – a toss-up game.
In theory, it sounds like Garoppolo is in a great situation to succeed which he very well could. He has the skillset, weapons and scheme to put up solid numbers. However, when you look at the matchups he’s going to have a tough time against teams like Arizona and Houston.
I wouldn’t advise on drafting Garoppolo – he’s only going to start 4 games and you have no idea how his production will be. However, pay close attention to his week 1 performance against Arizona. If he shows some good flashes, he is poised for a big week 2 against an abysmal Miami defense which will more than likely be his biggest game out of the four.