With the regular season just weeks away, the Patriots are preparing for life without Tom Brady. As it stands today, Brady is still facing a four game suspension although it is rumored to possibly be shortened. Next on the depth chart at quarterback is 2nd year player Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois. Does that school sound familiar? Tony Romo went undrafted out of Eastern Illinois and panned out pretty well for the Dallas Cowboys. Garoppolo was selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft and is preparing to fill Tom Brady’s shoes while he’s out. With just 19 career completions, can Garoppolo succeed for the New England Patriots?
Although he has just 19 completions to his name, Garoppolo has played well in his limited experience. He completed 19 of 27 passes (70.4%) for 182 yards and one touchdown, a quarterback rating of 101.2. Now these numbers come from no-pressure situations. The bulk of his work come from a blow out loss to the Chiefs, a blow out win over the Bears, and in a game that didn’t matter at the end of the season to the Bills. It’ll be interesting to see how he fairs when the slate is wiped clean and every game matters.
At running back, Garoppolo should have a trio of running backs to help him out in LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, and Travaris Cadet. He’ll have All-Pro tightend in 6’6″ Rob Gronkowski who should make for a great red zone target. At receiver, he has the reliable Julian Edelman who accounted for 92 receptions last season as well as Brandon LaFell who finished strong to the tune of 74 catches, 953 yards and 7 touchdowns. If the Patriots can tap into the potential of Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson this season they’ll have a formidable group at wide receiver to give a young Garoppolo. Let’s not forget about Reggie Wayne whom the Patriots just signed. It’ll be interesting to see how quick he can pick up the playbook and get into game shape. I would not expect too much out of him early in the season.
With this kind of offensive personnel in place, Garoppolo should be fine. If he struggles, it may be a testament more to how good of a quarterback he can be in the NFL.