The time has come. Tom Brady's suspension officially began on September 3rd, therefore no sight of Brady until October. The feeling has already started to sink in for many Patriots fans. In training camp and practices, Brady had to split first-team reps with Jimmy Garoppolo. That right there is a strange enough feeling. Most of the preseason talk was focused on Jimmy G and how he will fare in the coming weeks, not about how well Brady will work with offseason additions. We're all used to people discussing Brady's age around this time, how much longer he'll last, and the many doubters voicing their opinions. All eyes are on Garoppolo for the time being.
Patriots fans have had the luxury of Brady being their starting quarterback for a long time now. It's been a while since we've had many lingering questions about the guy leading up to week 1, and it's been a while since we've had to worry about how the QB will look and fit in with the offense. With Brady as the starter, you don't have to think about how he'll hold up against the opponent, and you rarely have to worry about whether or not the production will differ from being home or away. You have the utmost confidence that the quarterback will give you the best chance to win every single time.
Thankfully, Garoppolo will have his own luxury of playing at Gillette in front of the home crowd in three out of the four games. Though, the elephant in the room is week 1 in Arizona. Jimmy's ability to read defenses is most certainly up in the air. If Brady were starting, it'd be silly to have any question about this; his proven ability to quickly and successfully read defenses is second to none. As we saw in the preseason, Garoppolo has limited ability in this category, but that's okay. If Jimmy G makes smart decisions, trusts his gut and his receivers and uses his athleticism to his advantage, reading the defense shouldn't be an issue. Yes, it's helpful to have Brady's brain in a scenario where you're facing the Cardinals' defense, but Garoppolo can most certainly make it out alive. We don't entirely know what to expect from Garoppolo, but if he keeps his head straight and is confident in himself and his team, there's no reason that this offense will fail in these four weeks. Arizona will undoubtedly be a tall task for a guy the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, but all he has to do is stay calm and confident and he will find success.
Garoppolo, as an individual, is very talented and can seriously have an incredibly successful four weeks as a starter. He isn't doing it alone, though. This receiving core will only help him without any question. He can sling it to a healthy Rob Gronkowski, Marty Bennett, the emerging AJ Derby, Clay Harbor, a healthy Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan (AKA 7/11, as he's always open), and hopefully preseason standout Malcolm Mitchell. Jimmy G also has DJ Foster, a nifty running back who can catch the ball. Having Legarrette Blount, James White and Brandon Bolden is a plus, as well. The only thing standing in between Garoppolo and all of those names I mentioned is the offensive line. Belichick has been toying around with the O-line for a few weeks now, so all we can do is hope that they too put their best foot forward in protecting their quarterback, no different from as if it were Brady.
September is going to be a wild, unpredictable, question mark-filled month. Everybody has a different viewpoint on Jimmy Garoppolo, but we will find out the truth in the following weeks. We are going to learn a lot about what the Patriots do in fact have in Garoppolo, unfortunately learning it the hard way. It doesn't have to be a miserable experience as long as Jimmy G stays true to himself, his teammates, makes smart decisions, listens to his coaches, and makes his mark as leader until October, hopefully quieting the mouths of the doubters.