For the fifth time in the last six years, a quarterback drafted by the New England Patriots is going to the Super Bowl. However, this time it’s 2014 second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo appeared to be the heir apparent to Brady, but Brady played too well for too long. Because of this, New England sent Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers at the 2017 trade deadline. Despite Tom Brady getting older and Garoppolo’s recent success, the Patriots still made the right move to hold on to the three-time league MVP.
Two Years Later, New England Patriots Still Correct In Sticking With Tom Brady Over Jimmy Garoppolo
Super Bowl Success
Losing Garoppolo would hurt if Brady didn’t take the Patriots to each of the last two Super Bowls. Brady had a season for the ages in 2017, winning MVP and dragging New England to Super Bowl LII thanks to one of the best postseason runs in history. During his three-game stretch, Brady threw for 1,132 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions. His performance in Super Bowl LII should have gone down as one of the best in history, but New England’s defense couldn’t make a stop to save their lives. If Garoppolo were running the show in 2017, there’s no way the Patriots make it as far as they did.
The only thing better than making a Super Bowl is winning the whole thing, which Brady did the very next year. Despite working with a supporting cast that included Julian Edelman (good), a banged-up Rob Gronkowski, and a whole lot of nothing, Brady managed to bring his team all the way to the Super Bowl. While he didn’t have a great game in Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots would not have made it there without him. In the AFC Championship Game, Brady led back-to-back touchdown drives to send the game to overtime and then won it with one of the best drives of his entire career. Jimmy Garoppolo, meanwhile, missed the vast majority of the season with an ACL injury.
Tom Brady Is Still Better Than Jimmy Garoppolo
Even though Garoppolo made it farther than Brady this year, it’s safe to say that Brady is still the better quarterback. When looking at conventional numbers, Brady finished the year with 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Garoppolo, meanwhile, finished with 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Advanced numbers gave Garoppolo the slight edge, as the 49ers passer finished the year ranked 12th in DYAR, 11th in DVOA, and 12th in QBR. Brady, meanwhile, ended the year ranked 16th in DYAR, 17th in DVOA, and 16th in QBR.
Advanced metrics are better than conventional metrics, but they still lack context. Garoppolo spent the year throwing to an elite tight end in George Kittle and a stacked wide receiver room headlined by rookie sensation Deebo Samuel and established pro Emmanuel Sanders. On top of that, he also has one of the best offensive minds in football (Kyle Shanahan) calling the shots. Brady, meanwhile, only had one reliable receiver in Julian Edelman, and even he played through a vast assortment of injuries throughout the season.
Pro Football Focus is far from perfect, but it’s probably the best measure for quarterback play out there. According to their rankings, Brady finished the year as the 12th-best quarterback in the league, while Garoppolo finished at 13. Nobody denies that Brady took a step back this season, but most of the statistical decline is due to the subpar supporting cast. Brady would be putting up his old numbers in San Francisco, and the Patriots might have lost the division had Garoppolo started over Brady.
He’s Tom Brady
Jimmy Garoppolo could turn into a 15-year All-Pro for the 49ers and the Patriots would still be correct to hold on to Tom Brady. Brady is the best quarterback to ever walk the Earth and has earned the right to go out on his terms. The former sixth-round pick turned a once-forgotten franchise into the picture of sustained excellence and created a dynasty that will never be matched.
The 49ers moved on from Steve Young once it was clear that Joe Montana wasn’t the same guy anymore. Ditto for Brett Favre, who battled years of inconsistency prior to losing his job to Aaron Rodgers. Brady was in the midst of arguably the best four-year stretch of his career and can still play at an above-average level. Moving on from him then would have been dumb, and the Patriots should do everything in their power to bring Brady back for at least one or two more seasons.
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