New England Patriots 2016 Player Grade: Jimmy Garoppolo
By Matty Simo
The New England Patriots needed a quality backup quarterback to lead the offense in the first four games last year. Jimmy Garoppolo did half the job, so how did he grade out?
The New England Patriots drafted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. But not even the Patriots knew how crucial his role would be to start the 2016 season. Without Garoppolo, would New England have won Super Bowl 51?
That is highly debatable considering “Jimmy G” started only two of the team’s first four games in Tom Brady’s absence. In fact, Garoppolo played outstanding in six quarters filling in for Brady during his suspension before suffering a shoulder injury.
If the Patriots do not start last year 2-0, would they have gone 3-1 without Brady and an NFL-best 14-2 overall? We will never know, but one could certainly argue that the 2016 season could have turned out differently.
Regardless, Garoppolo’s strong play early on may have also helped light a fire under Brady, who enjoyed an MVP-quality campaign. Many have compared Garoppolo to Aaron Rodgers as he waited in the wings behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre. While Rodgers stayed with the Green Bay Packers as the successor to Favre, Garoppolo may still get his big shot elsewhere. But for now, he remains New England’s insurance policy behind Brady.
Next: Breaking down the quarterback position in 2017
Based solely on last year’s performance, Garoppolo does not deserve anything less than an A grade. However, his injury in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 meant the Pats had to throw rookie Jacoby Brissett into the fire.
If Garoppolo does not get hurt, New England probably gets off to a 4-0 start rather than 3-1. Hate to dock him for that, especially since his passer rating (113.3) was higher than Brady’s (112.2). But Garoppolo is still the backup, and we have not seen enough of him yet, for better or worse.