Welcome to the first position analysis on Musket Fire. Over the next couple weeks, I will be breaking down every position of the New England Patriots, including its strengths, weaknesses, where it can improve and general thoughts. the first one that I will be doing is the most important position on the field. It has been the rock in the Patriots organization the last decade, but has experienced some new turbulence in the past year. My first position analysis will be of the New England Patriots quarterbacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo via NFL Draft (Pick 62)
The New England Patriots are clearly quite set at quarterback this season, and I would be surprised if we even see more than one or two more players brought in during training camp. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan Mallett get moved during the summer, but that might be a longshot at this point. What else is there to say about the Patriots quarterbacks? They have one of the top three quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, and that’s good enough to make them Super Bowl contenders. It’s the other two that are rather interesting, with Mallett drawing some trade interest, and Garoppolo being tabbed as Brady’s successor a few years down the line.
1. Tom Brady
2. Ryan Mallett
3. Jimmy Garoppolo
The New England Patriots depth chart is really no surprise. Tom Brady is at the top, and so long as he’s under contract with the Patriots, he will always be at the very top. As of right now, Ryan Mallett will be ahead of second round pick Jimmy Garoppolo just because of his familiarity with the system, and his experience being a backup in the NFL the past three years. Garoppolo could very well end up being the backup by the end of the pre-season, either due to a trade, or simply outperforming Mallett in the pre-season games, and camp.
Just having Tom Brady in the fold is a major strength as it is. Despite a slight drop off last year, Brady proved that even with an entire set of new weapons, he could be a fantastic player. He’s still one of the smartest quarterbacks in football, and can still make all the throws all over the field. Still an excellent reader of defenses, and has that “clutch factor” that we saw numerous times last season during major comebacks, Brady is still one of the leagues best. Other than that, Mallett brings a factor that neither Brady or Garoppolo can bring, and that’s some major arm strength. Say what you will about his accuracy, and it is pretty lacking, but Mallett has that prototypical arm strength and size that you want from a quarterback. As for Garoppolo, he’s a very good athlete, with a very strong-arm capable of putting good velocity onto the ball at all levels of the field. We will still have to wait a bit before we really judge him on his strengths and weaknesses however.
The New England Patriots problem is that their quarterbacks don’t really give them any sense of an explosive offense. I understand the change from a high-flying offense into a more ball controlling version, but sometimes the Patriots will run into the problem of not being able to keep up. Brady still struggles with his deep ball, and cannot take the top off a defense even when the opportunity is staring him in the face. even some of his shorter throws have been on the steady decline the past few years. Brady is still one of the best in the league, but he needs to just be a bit more refined, and quit rushing things. I do think that this will partially be solved with the new attention paid to the offensive line. As for Mallett, we all know that his accuracy at ever level, and his decision-making are his weaknesses. He has the arm strength to get the ball where it needs to go, but needs to sometimes take strength off the pass, in favour of putting more touch on the ball. As for Garoppolo, like I said above, we need to wait a bit longer before we can truly assess his weaknesses and strengths. But in college, he did struggle with some pocket awareness, and in the faster and stronger NFL, he has to always be aware of his surroundings.
The Patriots are comfortably set at quarterback, not only right now, but in the future. It might not have been the popular move right now, but getting Garoppolo does give the Patriots someone to develop over the next 3-4 years. Ryan Mallett should continue to draw at least some consideration in a trade, but if something doesn’t come to fruition, then he’ll hit free agency and most likely bring the Patriots back a compensation pick. But of course, the only thing that matters right now is the incumbent. Brady is still capable of being in that elite category for at least the next two years, and that’s all the Patriots are asking for. So long as Brady is around, the Patriots will always be in contention.
Overall Grade: A
What is everyone else’s thoughts on the New England Patriots quarterback situation? Does it need to be upgraded in any way? Are you comfortable going into the next couple seasons with Garoppolo being the heir apparent to Brady’s throne? Let me know in the comments.