Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the 2016 NFL season due to his part in the 2014 AFC Championship game scandal known as Deflategate. Brady was accused of using footballs that were deflated by the smallest of margins in the Patriots 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Last off-season, Brady had been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, but that was overturned and he played in all 16 games. Before then, however, it looked as if backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was going to take snaps in the 2015 season. Now, it looks as if he will be doing that to kick off the 2016 NFL season.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo Keep the New England Patriots Afloat?
The Patriots first four games are as follows:
at Arizona Cardinals
vs Miami Dolphins
vs Houston Texans
vs Buffalo Bills
Can Garoppolo get this team by without Brady or will they be in a hole after one month?
Garoppolo played in the 2015 preseason, as it stood that Brady would be suspended for the first four games. During his preseason play, he threw for 126 yards and a touchdown in a game against the Carolina Panthers. Against the New Orleans Saints, he threw for 269 yards and a touchdown and led the Patriots on five scoring drives in a win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Yes, those are preseason stats, but if Garoppolo could do that in the regular season, he would be well on his way.
How Will He Fare Against the Patriots First Four Opponents?
at Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals acquired Chandler Jones from the Patriots in a trade for guard Jonathan Cooper. While Jones would love to sack Brady, his former quarterback, he will most likely be stuck with sacking Garoppolo. This doesn’t seem like it will be a problem for the Cardinals, as they have proved to have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
Let’s not forget that Tyrann Mathieu will be coming back healthy after tearing his ACL in Philadelphia last season. They also have their star cornerback in Patrick Peterson. Garoppolo will have his hands full on the first Sunday night in 2016. It doesn’t look like it will be pretty for the Patriots.
vs Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins defense ranked near last in the NFL last season in total defense. With Olivier Vernon and Brent Grimes gone, this defense just looks weaker than it was. This seems like it will be an easy win for the Pats over their AFC East division rival.
vs Houston Texans: The Texans, like the Cardinals, have one of the most dangerous defensive lines in the NFL with J.J. Watt, former Patriots player Vince Wilfork, and 2014 #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. The Patriots offensive line will need to protect Garappolo very well in order for him to make the big plays. That’s not all the Patriots are dealing with, however. They also need Garoppolo to outduel either Brock Osweiler or Brandon Weeden in order to snag a victory at home.
vs Buffalo Bills: The Bills offense is more of a challenge than their defense. If the Pats offense can outdo the Bills offense, the Pats will pick up a victory against the Ryan brothers.
The Patriots will start 2-2 under Jimmy Garoppolo. There is no chance they win in Arizona and the Texans will sack Garoppolo mutliple times and force many turnovers. On the other hand, the Bills and Dolphins look like wins as neither defense looks like they will step up and be able to stop the Patriots high-powered offense, with or without Brady.