We know the story. New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, wanted to keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and eventually move on from the current Patriots starter, Tom Brady. Brady had subsequently went over his coach’s head to owner Robert Kraft, who then had him traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
So what’s all the fuss about Garoppolo? We will refrain from referring to him as “Jimmy G” as he has not done anything to warrant that nickname, but there is no doubt that he is an enigma. Why? Many tout his 19-5 career record as a starting quarterback – as of week 15 – but we must look at the reason behind it.
He was 2-0 in New England in 2016, but Matt Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 season in 2008, when Brady went down in the first game of that season. When Jacoby Brissett took over after Garoppolo was injured in 2016, he also had success while Brady was suspended. So the question becomes; was it Garoppolo or Belichick?
While the 49ers are having a great 2019 season, Garoppolo (who is 17-5 in San Francisco) is generally an afterthought as to the reasons why. The Niners’ defence led by a front line, which includes Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, rookie Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and anchored in the secondary by veteran – and Super Bowl winner – Richard Sherman, has been ranked in the Top 2 in total defense (yards allowed) and points allowed all season.
Offensively, their rushing attack ranks 2nd in the NFL, behind the Baltimore Ravens and prohibitive MVP Lamar Jackson.
Now some may point to his numbers, which look good on paper (26 TD’s and 11 INT’s), but they tell a completely different story when one delves a little deeper. In four games this season – which have come against the Arizona Cardinals (4-9-1) twice, the Cincinnati Bengals (1-13) and the New Orleans Saints, whose defensive effort that day left a lot to be desired – Garoppolo accrued 15 TD’s and 4 INT’s. That means in the other 10 games his numbers are 11 TD’s and 7 INT’s. Pretty pedestrian. Not the hallmark of a quarterback to carry a franchise.
His signature game, a 48-46 comeback shootout win over Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans, illustrated more of Garoppolo’s shortcomings, rather than the reasons as to why ample amounts of praise have been bestowed upon him.
Leading 35-33 in the 2nd half, he was unable to convert two crucial 3rd downs on that drive, but was bailed out by the Saints’ defence, who committed penalties on both plays. One of which was an unnecessary roughness call (hit to the head of defenseless receiver) which added another 15 yards that Garoppolo was struggling to get in those crucial situations.
Leading 42-40 late in the 4th quarter he had a chance to ice the game with the 49ers having a 1st and goal, and what did Garoppolo do? Nothing on the 1st down, took a sack on 2nd down (which a QB can’t do in that situation), which made scoring a touchdown on 3rd down – which would have put the game to bed – exceedingly difficult. Unable to do so, they settled for a field goal and a 45-40 lead. Brees responded with a touchdown drive shortly thereafter giving New Orleans a 46-45 lead with 53 seconds to go.
Again what did Garoppolo do?
Nothing… well at least on the first three plays, leaving the 49ers with a 4th and 4. He was able to throw a five yard out to tight end George Kittle, who on his own had to run 35-40 yards up the field with two Saints defenders draped all over him. One grabbing his facemask, which resulted in a 15 yard penalty for the infraction, thus putting San Francisco in position to kick the game winning field goal.
So we are glorifying Garoppolo for throwing a five yard out? Are we being serious? It wasn’t his heroics, but somehow he’s the beneficiary of all the praise. Yes, he’s not losing games, but let’s keep some perspective here.
If San Francisco manages to reach the promise land this season and returns to the glory days when quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young were winning Super Bowls, it likely won’t be on the shoulders of Garoppolo. If they don’t, he could be the reason why.