3rd String Pats Team Wins Big, Belichick Still the GOAT
by Dan Colombo on Friday, September 30th, 2016
On January 18th, 2015, the New England Patriots, hoping to advance to Super Bowl XLIX, took on the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference (AFC) championship game. They managed to comfortably triumph over the Colts by a margin of 45-7 and went on to win the Super Bowl against the Seahawks in a tight back and forth game. However, despite the Patriots’ effortless win in the AFC title game, they would face controversy over deflating balls and eventually receive heavy-handed punishments, including a four-game suspension for Tom Brady. While Brady initially postponed the suspension by appealing in court, Roger Goodell reopened the case and forced Brady to serve his suspension at the start of this season.
At the quarterback position, the patriots have three players: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett. 24 year-old Garoppolo, listed as the first backup for the Patriots, was drafted by the franchise in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL draft. Garoppolo played NCAA Division I football for Eastern Illinois and won the Walter Payton award in 2013, given to the best offensive player in the FCS. After Garoppolo, the Patriots have rookie Brissett as their second backup quarterback. Brissett was acquired by the Patriots in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL draft and competed in the SEC for the Florida Gators before moving to the ACC’s North Carolina State.
Despite the anxiety every Patriots fan had for the first four games of the 2016-2017 season, the backup quarterbacks have exceeded expectations. In the Patriots’ season opener against the highly favored Arizona Cardinals, Garoppolo threw for 264 yards and completed 24 out of 33 total passes. He also tallied one touchdown in the 23-21 win for the Pats. In the second game against the Miami Dolphins, Garoppolo showed true talent and potential by throwing for an astounding 232 yards and 3 touchdowns in just the first half. Unfortunately, he sustained a sprained shoulder with 5 minutes left in the second quarter and could not return to the game. Following the injury, Jacoby Brissett, the only rostered quarterback left, entered the game. The Patriots, skeptical about their rookie quarterback, primarily ran the ball for the rest of the game. However, Brissett still managed to pass for 92 yards on just nine total passes while also rushing for 12 yards on four carries. Brissett performed just well enough to hold the lead en route to a 31-24 victory.
Once the Patriots ruled Garoppolo out of their next matchup against the Houston Texans, fans were left hoping Brissett could pull another astounding victory for the Patriots. Despite his strong performance against the Dolphins, the Patriots still avoided passing the ball once Brissett entered the game. Moreover, the Texans boasted a stronger defense than the Dolphins or Cardinals. Led by J.J Watt, last year’s defensive player of the year, the Texans’ defense was predicted to challenge Brissett in his first start.
Shocking viewers, the Patriots shutout the Texans on their way to a 27-0 win. In an ESPN interview, wide receiver Julian Edelman spoke of Brissett’s stand-out performance saying, “He handled it well. Jacoby came in and called the plays … made plays when he had to, converted [on] third down. Those were big plays. I’m proud of him and I look forward to working this week hard with him.” The Patriots clearly have faith in Brissett going into next week and hope he can pull out another win for the Pats.
Garoppolo and Brissett’s recent success has also brought new criticism to the Patriots’ organization. The Patriots, regarded as one of the most hated teams in sports history, are performing in spite of their punishment. Without Brady, head coach Bill Belichick has been praised recently for his great work with the two inexperienced backup quarterbacks. The Patriots have grown past their cheating reputation into a great team that can perform even without their best player. Watching how they tackle the next game and the rest of the 2016-2017 season should be fascinating.
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