Plenty of key players have been missing from the Patriots’ first two preseason games, but one absence has stood out above them all.
And unfortunately, he’ll be missing for the Patriots’ first four regular season games, too.
As we’re all aware, Tom Brady will serve a four-game suspension stemming from the infamous Deflategate scandal.
We’re not here today to discuss why everything about Deflategate is a complete joke, but instead to look ahead at the quarterback position and what we can expect this season from Jimmy Garoppolo and then beginning in Week 5, Brady.
And if we see Jacoby Brissett take a meaningful snap in the regular season, something went very wrong.
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
The Patriots have three quarterbacks in camp, and all three will make the team. With Brady out, Garoppolo will take the starting quarterback duties for the first four games, and then as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has already stated, Brady will take the job back over. That will bump Garoppolo to the back-up job, and the rookie Brissett to third string.
This is not a Drew Bledsoe – Tom Brady situation, folks. Not yet, anyways.
Brady returns for his 17th NFL season and at age 39 is still considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Will the Patriots miss him for four games? Of course. Should they get by without him? Yes.
Their first four games look like this: at Arizona, vs. Miami, vs. Texas, at Buffalo.
Though the Cardinals could prove to be a tough matchup in Garoppolo’s first career NFL start, you wouldn’t call those four games a gauntlet. Many feel as though Garoppolo can get the Patriots into Week 5 with a 3-1 record – which is actually better than the Patriots’ record at that point two seasons ago before they went on to win the Super Bowl.
Through two preseason games, Garoppolo has shown improvement. After going 11-for-18 for 168 yards against the Saints, he went 16-for-21 for 181 yards and a touchdown against the Bears last Thursday. He hit tight end A.J. Derby for a touchdown, which capped off a nice two-minute drive before the half.
Garoppolo should benefit from two things through his first four NFL games: the system he plays in and the Patriots defense.
Don’t expect Garoppolo to start airing out footballs down the sideline. The Patriots’ bread and butter is going under defenses with shorter passes, screen plays, and passes in the flat. He’s proven he can do that and already looks to have nice chemistry with Chris Hogan.
And with the Patriots defense’s ability to create turnovers, the field should be that much shorter.
Brady sitting out the first four games could be a blessing in disguise. It’s early, but Garoppolo looks like he belongs in the NFL. With the need for quality starting quarterbacks right now, he could fetch a lot via trade if he shows he’s capable of quarterbacking an NFL team.
And with Brady another year older, it’s not such a bad thing that his season starts a little later and he comes in Week 5 with fresh legs and that take-no-prisoners attitude.