by Rob Joyce
After seven (!!) months, it looks like we can finally put DeflateGate behind us. It was announced on Tuesday that Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady would not get his four-game suspension reduced. The NFLPA will file a suit in court, but for all intents and purposes the decision is final. That means for the first four games of the season, Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Entering his second year in the NFL, Garoppolo was the team’s second-round pick in the 2014 Draft. With just 27 career pass attempts he is now thrust into action for the season’s first month. Here are some facts about the relative unknown:
1) He broke most of Tony Romo’s records in college:
Both alumni of Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo eclipsed Romo’s school records for career passing touchdowns and yards, and also beat out the Dallas QB’s record for most touchdowns in a single season. As a senior, Garoppolo won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in FCS, which helped vault him up NFL draft boards.
The Patriots have a bye in Week 4, meaning when they meet the Cowboys in Week 5, the two Eastern Illinois alums will (barring injury) square off against one another.
2) His NFL sample size is small, but encouraging.
Garoppolo appeared in six games for the Patriots last year, in total completing 19-of-27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Coming out of college scouts were impressed by his quick release, strong arm and accuracy, to go with good size (6-foot-2, 225 lbs.)
3) He’s not a dual-threat QB, but he is mobile.
He’s a gunslinger first and foremost, but he is quick enough to escape trouble if need be. In college he ran for eight touchdowns, in addition to his passing prowess. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will need to make some adjustments to the gameplan for the athletic Garoppolo to feel comfortable, and if a defense is over-aggressive, a well-timed zone read could work.
4) Growing up he was a Chicago Bears fan.
The Arlington Heights, IL native was a fan of his hometown team as a kid, and said before the draft that the Bears selecting him would be a “dream come true”. Of course that didn’t happen, but it appears things worked out well for Garoppolo, who after one year has a Super Bowl ring, is learning under one of the greatest QBs ever, and considers Brady a big brother.
5) The NFL Network awarded him “Best Smile” among all QBs in 2014.
Ladies have been swooning over Brady for 15 years, but he may have company in the looks department. Analyst Mike Mayock named Garoppolo the recipient of this fictitious award last season. Patriots fans are praying that Garoppolo has a reason to smile this year, especially through the first four games of this season.