Too much has been made about an average starting quarterback this week.
It’s obvious why Jimmy Garoppolo is a popular topic in New England this week: The San Francisco 49ers quarterback and 2014 Patriots second-round draft pick is playing his former team for the first time.
I get it. It’s cool. It’s a storyline. Definitely worth noting.
It will be mentioned roughly 10,000 times on Sunday’s CBS broadcast.
It seems so forced to retread the conversation of whether the Patriots should have traded Garoppolo on Halloween in 2017, however. It’s contrived antagonization. The answer is yes — a thousand times yes — the Patriots were right to trade Garoppolo. Does anyone honestly think they shouldn’t have made that deal given everything we know at this point?
Brady won an MVP in 2017. The Patriots won a Super Bowl in 2018. They couldn’t keep Brady and Garoppolo.
And even if that wasn’t enough, the conversation should have ended for good on Feb. 2, 2020, when Garoppolo and his 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers could not have surrounded Garoppolo with a better team. They had the NFL’s best defense, a top-10 rushing attack and high-quality receivers who could pick up yards after catch in George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders. The 49ers led the Chiefs 20-10 after the third quarter. Then San Francisco put up a goose egg in the fourth quarter while Garoppolo went 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception.
Debate over. The Patriots made the right choice.
The 49ers thought about signing Brady this offseason. They benched Garoppolo for C.J. Beathard in their inexcusable 43-17 Week 5 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch don’t seem fully committed to their quarterback. So, why should the Patriots or their fanbase be having any second thoughts whatsoever about losing Garoppolo?
He’s almost 29 years old and isn’t an elite quarterback. He’s an average starter. He’s more effective in garnering sports talk radio ratings than he is as an NFL quarterback.
There’s a scenario in which Garoppolo even gets traded or released this offseason and winds up back in New England. So, what? The Patriots were wrong for losing out on Garoppolo for one post-Brady season while winning a Super Bowl in the process?
What. Is. Happening? Why is this a debate?
It’s definitely true that Patriots QB Cam Newton, who took over for Brady this season, has struggled in his past two games. Overall this season he’s completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 871 yards with two passing touchdowns and four interceptions while also picking up 225 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He has a 53.1 QBR.
Newton has thrown for 6.3 intended air yards per passing attempt.
Garoppolo, meanwhile, is completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 735 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has a QBR of 69.
Garoppolo has thrown for 6.2 intended air yards per passing attempt.
Newton and Garoppolo rank 30th and 31st in intended air yards per passing attempt this season, respectively. Garoppolo is dead last in completed air yards per passing attempt (2.3) while Newton ranks 24th (3.8).
Garoppolo has seen better overall results out of his passing attempts, but Newton has been a far better rusher. The two QBs are essentially a wash up to this point in the season, and at least Newton hasn’t yet been benched.
Neither quarterback, as of Week 7, would have been the ideal successor after Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garoppolo was a solid second-round pick for the Patriots in 2014. He hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations that were unfairly set for him when he was traded in 2017, however. And for that reason, the Patriots made the right decision to trade him.