FOXBORO, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injury presented the New England Patriots with two options at quarterback. Neither of them are particularly desirable.
With Garoppolo almost certain to miss at least one game and Tom Brady not eligible to return from his Deflategate suspension until Week 5, the Patriots will start either rookie Jacoby Brissett or someone who currently is not on their roster when they host the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
That gives them a mere four days to either: A) coach up a first-year pro who has about 34 minutes of NFL experience under his belt, or B) drill one of the league’s more complicated offensive playbooks into the brain of some veteran who was not good enough to survive final cuts.
Also keep in mind Houston is 2-0 this season, employs the two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in six quarters.
Other than that, it should be a piece of cake.
“That’s the NFL football season,” Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman said. “It’s been different in the past at that (quarterback) position, but it’s like any other position. You’ve just got to keep it going. The train keeps on moving, and it just means that we’re going to have to have a great week of preparation against a really good football team.
“You know Houston, and (Texans head coach Bill O’Brien) is going to have them prepared to come and play hard. So, it’s one of those type of weeks.”
While the Patriots likely will need to sign a quarterback simply for depth purposes (ex-Texans QB T.J. Yates is a possible candidate, as are guys like Ryan Lindley and Matt Flynn), it seems more likely they would choose Option A and give Brissett his first NFL start.
The third-round draft pick has looked capable during his brief time on the field — the Pats wouldn’t have entered the season with just two active quarterbacks if they didn’t have at least some faith in him — and he spent the entire summer learning Josh McDaniels’ offense.
The schedule did not do the Patriots any favors, though. If they were playing next weekend, Brissett would have a day or two to digest the film from Sunday’s game — a 31-24 win over the Miami Dolphins — before diving into tape on the Texans. But with the short week, planning for Houston will have to begin almost immediately.
“Obviously, Jacoby has to be ready to go,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “We’re praying for the best with Jimmy hoping that he can bounce back, but our coaching staff has done a great job of preparing this team over the years. I’ve seen it time and time again, so hopefully we can rise to the occasion and be ready to go on Thursday.”
The Patriots simplified their offense for Brissett against the Dolphins, with most of his six completions coming on screen passes and underneath routes. Expect more of the same if he gets the nod Thursday, plus a whole lot more LeGarrette Blount, who led all rushers Sunday with 123 yards on 29 carries.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images