Jimmy Garoppolo got a worrying injury update on Sunday, with the New England Patriots quarterback suffering a broken collarbone that could sideline him for a long stretch of the season — and send his team scrambling for an emergency replacement.
Filling in for the suspended Tom Brady, Garoppolo looked the part of an heir apparent through the first game, a surprisingly strong win over the Arizona Cardinals. In Sunday’s game, he carved up the Miami Dolphins defense for the first half before suffering an injury on a hard hit by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Garoppolo was immediately ruled out for the second half, sending rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett into the game and leaving Julian Edelman as the team’s emergency quarterback.
Garoppolo was taken to the locker room for evaluation, and ESPN insider Ian Rapoport reported that the third-year quarterback has suffered a broken collarbone.
It's now official, the #Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo has suffered a broken collarbone.— Ian Rapoport (@SportsTalkJoe) September 18, 2016
While the injury update didn’t specify how long Jimmy Garoppolo could be out with the broken collarbone, other NFL quarterbacks have missed long stretches after suffering the same injury. In 2014, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a broken clavicle that Rapoport initially reported would keep him out between six and eight weeks, though the Eagles opted to put him on injured reserve.
Jimmy Garoppolo is questionable to return after injuring his shoulder.— ESPN (@espn) September 18, 2016
Jacoby Brissett is in at QB for New England. pic.twitter.com/gZe9O71vAi
While degrees of collarbone breaks can vary, Sunday’s injury points to a long absence for Jimmy Garoppolo. The SB Nation blog Arrowhead Pride noted that some players have been kept out for long stretches with this injury, while others have come back more quickly.
“In 2010, Tony Romomissed 10 games with a broken collarbone.”
Either way, the loss of Garoppolo is a major setback to the New England Patriots. As NFL.com noted, the Patriots have already been hit hard by injuries and Brady’s suspension, but Garoppolo’s performance seemed to give the team hope.
“The injury took the air out of a terrific first half performance. Garoppolo completed 18 of 27 passes for 234 yards and three scores in 25 minutes of game action. Despite having no Rob Gronkowski at his disposal, Garoppolo had the Patriots‘ offense humming like it was 2007 and Tom Brady was running the show. He has specialized on third-and-long plays, going through his reads and displaying great pocket movement.”
With Brissett untested, the New England Patriots will likely need to take a dip into free agency or make a trade to find at least a fill-in until Brady is back in two weeks. There are a handful of veterans available, including Ryan Lindley and Josh Freeman, but a trade may be a more logical route.
There are some backup quarterbacks the New England Patriots could target, but the price for an emergency pick-up would likely be higher than normal.
Jimmy Garoppolo:— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 18, 2016
• 3 possessions.
• 3 TDs. pic.twitter.com/f3EqGIIvkI
Coming into the 2016 season, the biggest question for the New England Patriots was whether Garoppolo could keep the team’s head above water for the first four weeks while Brady served his Deflategate suspension. The Patriots were expected to be a Super Bowl contender again, but keeping pace until Brady’s return was seen as the biggest challenge.
The Patriots will now have more than two weeks left until Brady can make it back to the field, but a path that looks at least a bit easier with the Buffalo Bills — the Patriots Week 4 opponent — running into some early-season struggles.
The New England Patriots have not yet said how long Jimmy Garoppolo will miss with his injury, and the diagnosis of a broken collarbone has not been verified by the team.
[Featured Image by Charles Krupa/AP Images]