Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Patriots Plan For First Quarter Without Tom Brady

Keith Allison via Flickr


Three things are certain in life. Death, taxes, and Tom Brady starting for the New England Patriots. For the first four games this season however, the Pats will be without the future hall of famer. Brady recently had his suspension upheld for his role in “Deflategate”.

Eastern Illinois product Jimmy Garoppolo, will be the starting quarterback for New England‘s first four games. Tom Brady has achieved legendary status as a Patriot. He’s indicated on numerous occasions that he wants to play into his 40’s. “Father time” is undefeated but Tom Brady has shown no signs of a decline.

Last season, at age 38, he threw for nearly 4,800 yards, posted a 102.2 passer rating, tossed 36 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. The Pats lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in the AFC title game, but they’re in prime position to bounce back.

If any team can survive without its starting quarterback, it’s the Patriots. Bill Bellichick has a system in place, and the numbers don’t lie. In the past 15 years, the Pats have played in 10 AFC Championship games. With five straight appearances from 2011-16.

The franchise has won the AFC East the past seven seasons, and 13 of the past 15.The team has also won four Super Bowl’s in that span. With Garoppolo in a contract year, his first four starts are critical to not only the Pats playoff hopes, but more importantly his NFL career.

If he can string together some impressive performances, some quarterback hungry team, will offer a bounty to the Patriots for his services in 2017. The season starts with a trip to the desert against a NFC powerhouse, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cards boast a top-5 defensive unit led by All-Pro Patrick Peterson, the “Honey BadgerTyrann Mathieu, and former Patriot Chandler Jones, who the Cards traded for to sure up their pass rush. Defensive end Calias Campbell already is looking forward to the week one match-up.

“I’m licking my chops,” Campbell said on a radio appearance on CBS Sports.”You get a rookie quarterback, pretty much. You know it’s always exciting when you get a guy like that for his first game because he’s going to be nervous. He’s probably going to be sitting there holding the ball a little longer or trying to get rid of it quick, throwing bad balls. As a vet, we definitely pride ourselves on welcoming (inexperienced quarterbacks) the right way.”

Fortunately for the Pats, three of the first four games are at home. They host AFC East foes Miami and Buffalo in weeks two and four respectively. They also have a match-up against an improved Texans team on Thursday Night Football in week three.

The Texans and Cardinals possess two of the more dominant defenses in all of football. Both teams tied for seventh in points per game at 19.6, and finished third and fifth respectively in total defense last season. So those games may be a struggle. The Pats are a combined 19-5 against the Dolphins and Bills in their past 24 games. 2-2 is reasonable start, while 3-1 is a best case scenario.

On paper, Garoppolo faces a daunting task, but he’s had two years of tutelage under one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. His head coach is Bill Bellichick, and he’s surrounded by one of the best teams in football. He’s taken a huge bulk of first team reps in mini-camp and OTA’s to prepare for the season, and his progression will continue throughout training camp and preseason.

The Patriots aren’t in an ideal situation, but they can make it work. The offense has proven commodities with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Free agent acquisition Martellus Bennett, was one of the more underrated signings this offseason.

He and Gronkowski will be matchup nightmares out of two tight-end sets. The Pats haven’t had that flexibility since they lost Aaron HernandezLeGarrette Blount salvaged his career with the Pats, and is known for his rugged running style. If Dion Lewis can regain form a torn ACL, the Pats will have a solid 1-2 punch. Lewis is a dynamic runner and is dangerous as a pass catcher.

The defense may lack household names, but it’s still a Bill Belichick-coached unit. Great coaching compensates for lack of talent. Sure the Patriots would love to have Tom Brady for a full season, but they’ll get the chance to see if Jimmy Garrapolo can be their quarterback of the future, or use him for trade bait.

The last time Brady missed an extensive amount of time, was 2008,when Brady missed 15 games to a torn ACL. Matt Cassel led the Pats to a 11-5 season, but they missed out on the playoffs. The Patriots will survive without Tom Brady one way or another. He’s only suspended for four games, and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t muster at least a 2-2 start.

Teams like the Patriots always seem to get the best of both worlds and this instance should be no exception. While Brady serves his suspension, Jimmy Garappolo can showcase his ability, and potentially raise his trade value, then Brady comes in an leads a path of destruction through NFL defenses. Either way, expect another championship performance from the New England Patriots this season.