FOXBORO, Mass. — Elation quickly turned into pure panic for New England Patriots fans Sunday.
For a quarter and a half, it appeared the Patriots had the best two quarterbacks in the AFC East. Some of the more uninformed and braggadocios Patriots fans might have even believed the Patriots had the two best quarterbacks in the NFL after watching Jimmy Garoppolo toss 234 yards with three touchdowns while completing 66.7 percent of his passes in less than 26 minutes.
But then what few fans dared even consider happened in the second quarter. Garoppolo, rolling out, was hit hard on his left shoulder and landed even harder on his right. He started to walk off the field before crumpling to the ground. Trainers came out to tend to Garoppolo before leading him straight to the locker room. He never returned and won’t for at least one game. The Patriots won 31-24 but lost their second starting quarterback.
“It’s very tough. I know Jimmy Garoppolo has worked so hard to get himself ready to go, and he’s put himself in a great position to seize his moment, so to speak,” Patriots captain Matthew Slater said. “And it’s tough to see that, so you really feel for the guy. I think any time you’re on a team and have a personal relationship with a guy and you know the work that he’s put in, and to see a guy sustain an injury, it’s tough. It’s tough.
“I think that’s something, as you said, you kind of take for granted; injuries, injury reports. But that’s a guy that’s dealing with a situation he’s got to deal with day in and day out any time you sustain an injury, and there are a lot of emotions that play into that. We’re praying for Jimmy, hoping for the best, and he definitely has our support.”
Garoppolo reportedly suffered an AC joint injury to his throwing shoulder. The more optimistic report says he could be back in Week 4, while the more pessimistic one says he’s out for six weeks. There’s at least a chance Sunday was Garoppolo’s final start of the season.
So, what to make of Garoppolo’s performance? The QB played better than anyone would have expected, completing 70 percent of his passes for 498 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in his two starts. The Patriots relied on short passes in his first start and let him rip against the Arizona Cardinals, as he averaged 8.67 yards per attempt.
New England fans also learned he’s not as durable as Tom Brady. Some thought the Patriots would leave Brady in the dust sooner than later if Garoppolo led New England to a 4-0 record. But Garoppolo didn’t make it through two quarters as his mobile style puts him at more risk than Brady, who stays in the pocket more frequently. Brady is 39 years old, but the only games he’s ever missed were because of a torn ACL and his current four-game suspension.
Garoppolo suffering an injury just two games into his starting career could affect his value, a source told NESN.com. The source did add Garoppolo’s value remains “high,” however.
We were supposed to know more about Garoppolo’s value and potential after four games, but his shoulder injury two games in threw a wrench in the mix. Would the Patriots trade a quarterback who looked as good as Garoppolo did Sunday? How will Jacoby Brissett’s play affect the Patriots’ quarterback situation?
That remains unclear. But for now, talk of quarterback controversy in New England was premature. Brady will start in Week 5, as Bill Belichick proclaimed before the season.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images