Patriots fans who earlier this season were clamoring to see Jimmy Garoppolo take regular season snaps may finally get their wish this coming Sunday. No, Garoppolo is not going to pull a Rob Johnson and steal the starting job away from the leading man going into the playoffs. But he will likely allow Tom Brady to get some much-needed rest.
Despite the Patriots being a perfect 3-0 in December, Brady has not exactly lit it up lately. In the wins over San Diego, Miami and the Jets this month, Brady has had an average quarterback rating of 86.7. In his hottest stretch of the season – wins over the Bengals, Bills, Jets and Bears in October – Brady had an average quarterback rating of 125.5. In that red-hot stretch he threw 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the past three weeks, Brady has thrown just five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Last year, Brady also had a relatively sub-par closing stretch to the regular season. Brady and the Pats went 3-1 against the Browns, Dolphins, Ravens and Bills but Brady had an average quarterback rating of 83.2 in those last four games. Whether this trend carried over to the postseason is up for debate, as the Patriots torched the Colts in the divisional round, 43-22, but Brady put up blah numbers (13-of-25 for 198 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 78.4 QB rating). In the 26-16 AFC Championship game loss to the Broncos, Brady was better – hitting on 24-of-38 passes for 277 yards with one TD pass and zero interceptions while owning a 93.9 QB rating.