The New England Patriots will likely be without quarterback Tom Brady for four games after the league rejected his appeal of a suspension. Brady will try and escalate his appeal to the next level, which would be the court of law, and anything can happen there.
But for now, we're one step closer to seeing a new quarterback under center. That quarterback will be, in all likelihood, Jimmy Garoppolo. If there's anything Bill Belichick's Patriots have showed, it's that they can find success without Brady. We saw that with Matt Cassel, and that probably explains why NFL.com ranked Garoppolo the NFL's fourth-best backup QB.
Garoppolo is coming into his second season. As a rookie, he saw action in six games, attempting 19 passes and completing 27 for 182 yards and a touchdown. During the preseason, he did complete 46 of 77 passes for 618 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Those numbers should give Patriots fans some hope. New England brought in Matt Flynn this offseason, meaning there is someone there if Garoppolo blows it, but that doesn't seem likely. The Patriots insist they just needed a veteran for training camp.
Garoppolo's also a decent athlete for a QB and had a highly decorated college career in the FCS. His footwork could make for a new asset, though he's yet to show off any serious wheels:
Unlike a lot of young quarterbacks, Garoppolo showed an ability to go through his reads. He stayed in the pocket and often bought time. Unlike Brady, he sometimes created something out of nothing by evading free rushers.
(He's definitely willing to take a hit, though.)
How has Garoppolo looked this offseason? Obviously, he's been preparing as though he's going to have to start and has been under the microscope throughout organized team activities. In the latest mandatory minicamp, he was intercepted on the first pass of the final period of drills. The following day, he threw seven consecutive completions, including a touchdown, as reported by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
There was one practice session in which he threw five interceptions, and when asked about it, he said he's never going to be happy about any interception, "no matter how many it is," via Mike Reiss of ESPN. Garoppolo said he has to learn from those interceptions.
Brady is the kind of quarterback who you can never count out of a game, and Garoppolo is hinting at those same qualities. He might be a man after linebacker-loving Belichick's own heart as well:
'I talked to Bill (Belichick) at the combine, and I asked him how Jimmy was doing,' recalled [Garoppolo's QB tutor Jeff] Christensen in a recent phone call. 'He said "(Jimmy) looks like a linebacker. He works out like a linebacker. He acts like a linebacker. I really like him a lot, coach. You did a great job with him. Thank you."'
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