Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season will be fine, they said. The Patriots will probably be 2-2, or at worst, 1-3 when Brady comes back, they said. He’ll be well-rested, they said. Brady will be angry and out for revenge, they said. He’ll have a chip on his shoulder, they said.
In the meantime, according to these folks, Jimmy Garoppolo will go out there, win a couple, lose a couple, whatever, and then Tom Brady comes in like Gandalf the White in Week 5, and everything’s fine.
Maybe so, maybe no, but one of the Pats Pulpit commenters raised a solid point on Monday that deserves some recognition (as well as credit for being not hung over and thinking clearly on a Monday):
Plenty of people, like USA Today, have already looked into the logistical nightmare that New England’s offense is going to be for defensive coordinators this season with the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett, but here’s another curveball – the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and the Buffalo Bills can’t really study up on Jimmy Garoppolo, because the tape doesn’t exist.
In his NFL career so far, according to Pro Football Reference, Jimmy G has thrown 31 passes, completed 20 of them, and thrown one touchdown.
And studying his college tape isn’t going to do you any good, either. Eastern Illinois ran an offense with Jimmy that’s about as far away from New England’s evil-genius offense as you can get. In 2012, Eastern Illinois (Jimmy’s alma mater, in case you forgot) hired Dino Babers as head coach, who you may remember from his days at Baylor during Robert Griffin III’s heyday in Texas. The offense at EIU turned out to be up-tempo (which New England does a lot) and heavy on shotgun-spread formations (which, OK, New England also does a lot) – but the Panthers ran that offense without a playbook.
No, seriously, the offense that Garoppolo played in college didn’t have an actual playbook. Not like "it’s on an iPad", like "literally, a playbook does not exist". From Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko last summer:
"Garoppolo, who didn’t have a playbook in college, is now charged with commanding one of the most complex systems in football, heavy with option routes."
Compare that with the USA Today piece on Brady’s play-calling wristband from June titled "Tom Brady’s play-call wristband is proof NFL QBs have the hardest job in sports".
Back to Jimmy Garoppolo, though – perhaps more so than any Patriots season in recent memory, the only thing opposing teams can study will be what Brady and friends did last year.
Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell may be licking his chops to face off against Garoppolo in Week 1, but the three other teams that have to play Jimmy after that are probably licking their chops to get their hands on that Arizona-New England game tape.
Plus, you know, if there’s any coach that can build an offense around the talents – and flaws – of his quarterback, it’s Bill Belichick.