FOXBORO, Mass. — We don’t know who will start at quarterback for the New England Patriots on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. Neither head coach Bill Belichick nor soon-to-be QB1 Jimmy Garoppolo has revealed that information.
As Belichick explained over the weekend, the Patriots’ unorthodox quarterback situation makes tabbing a starter for their preseason finale against the New York Giants much more difficult than it typically would be.
Should the team give Garoppolo the extra reps, or sit him and avoid any threat of injury? Is it worthwhile to give Tom Brady another series or two before his Deflategate suspension kicks in? Would the best plan of action simply be to hand the ball to rookie Jacoby Brissett and let him do his thing?
It’s not an easy question to answer, and we won’t try to. Instead, here’s a rundown of the arguments for and against starting each of the three signal-callers:
Pros: Brady didn’t suit up for the Patriots’ first two exhibition contests, then played just four series in the third. His four-game ban — during which he will not be allowed to practice with teammates or visit the Patriots’ facilities — is set to begin in a matter of days, and this game is the last opportunity he’d have to throw passes to any current Patriots players until he returns in Week 5.
Cons: He’s Tom Brady. The Patriots already know what he can do. The other two quarterbacks need the reps far more than he does. Are a few extra snaps in late August really going to give him any sort of edge come early October? So, yeah, it would be very surprising if he starts this one.
Pros: Garoppolo was not at his best last week against the Carolina Panthers, and while that doesn’t erase all the positive strides he made earlier in the summer, he still need all the reps he can get.
Cons: Starting quarterbacks almost never make more than a brief cameo in the final preseason game. Most of the players on the field Thursday will be backups, upping the risk for potential injury. If Garoppolo were to go down, Brissett would become the Week 1 starter, and the Patriots surely don’t want to begin the regular season with an untested rookie under center.
Pros: As an NFL newcomer, Brissett should jump at any playing time he can get. As previously mentioned, he’s the Patriots’ next option if anything happens to Garoppolo, so he’ll need to be ready at a moment’s notice once Week 1 rolls around. The third-round draft pick had his best game of the preseason against Carolina, but he mostly relied on screen passes and underneath routes. An increase in snaps Thursday should offer a greater variety of play calls and the opportunity for him to execute them against higher-quality defenders.
Cons: None, really. Expect Brissett to play — and play a lot — this week, even if he doesn’t get the starting nod.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images