There’s no such thing as win-now in the NFL. If anything, the teams that attempt to win-now end up flopping and flailing their way to the bottom of the league. The Texans and Atlanta tried to win-now, after all. The Jimmy Garoppolo selection is excellent because it undermines that notion. The Patriots organization believes in constant success and continuity. They aren’t in win-now mode one season and rebuilding mode in another. They do both. That’s why they manage to compete for a Super Bowl most years.
Their selection compares in many ways to the Packers’ selection of Aaron Rodgers. Brady’s game does not compare at all to Brett Favre’s gunslinging mentality, and Garoppolo isn’t exactly a young Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers and Patriots both selected Rodgers and Garoppolo with the same strategy in mind. They were not drafting to win-now. They drafted to keep winning. Rodgers had an 6-10 season during his first year as a starter in 2008 but has had winning seasons since. The Patriots model themselves after that kind of success.
Garoppolo met with the press today for the first time as a Patriot, and he admitted that he has already lost sleep studying the New England offense. He’s allowed to say that because he is the backup — probably even a third-stringer. If he were this year’s starter like fellow second round selection Derek Carr might be, that statement would be unsettling. The press would be up in arms. But in New England, it’s predictable. The offense throws rookie receivers for a whirl, and so it’s bound to do it five times over for a quarterback. Belichick knows this, and he’s giving Garoppolo the opportunity to master it over time. And that’s the operative word for Belichick, “master.” Because he’s not going hand over the keys to his Ferrari offense, if the quarterback is not a master. Why should he?
For the shortsighted — and people who are willing to tag a grade on prospects as if they were term papers — this selection is an F. But if Brady slows down in three years, and Garoppolo is ready to succeed him, then this is an all-decade pick for the Patriots.