Will Injury To New England Patriots QB Tom Brady Replacement Jimmy Garoppolo Sideline Him Vs. Houston Texans?
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is no Tom Brady, but he has the New England Patriots (2-0) where you would normally expect the perennial playoff contenders to be going into their Week 3 matchup against the Houston Texans (2-0) at Gillete Stadium on Thursday night: undefeated.
Here’s the problem: Brady’s replacement might have to be replaced in this week’s contest after injuring his throwing shoulder in the second quarter of a home game with the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.
Garoppolo, 24, was scrambling toward the right sideline when he was driven to the ground by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso promptly after completing a short pass to Patriots rookie Malcolm Mitchell that resulted in a 15-yard gain. The collision caused the third-year quarterback to violently land on his right shoulder. Clearly in pain after getting back up, he would miss the rest of the game.
Garoppolo’s replacement, 23-year-old rookie Jacoby Brissett, proved serviceable from that point on, completing six passes in nine attempts for 92 yards. The six-foot-four West Palm Beach native, picked by New England in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of North Carolina State University, didn’t throw a touchdown in Week 2, but he also didn’t throw an interception. The Patriots went on to defeat the Dolphins by a score of 31-24.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the outcome of said game amounts to a Pyrrhic victory.
With Garoppolo’s status for Thursday’s game remaining questionable, there is no telling who will be under center for the Patriots the next time the defending AFC East champions take the field. That is precisely the kind of uncertainty Patriots fans have been dreading since Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016-17 NFL regular season in May due to being a central figure in the Deflategate scandal.
Per Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s tradition, when it comes to inquiries about key players who are recovering from injury, the six-time Super Bowl champion did little to make Garoppolo’s chances of playing Thursday any less obscure to reporters when asked about the young quarterback’s condition on Tuesday.
“I’m a football coach,” said Belichick, as quoted by USA Today. “I’m not a doctor. The medical staff is the medical staff. I coach the team. The medical people handle the injuries. They don’t call plays. I don’t do surgery. We have a great deal here. Works out good.”
Garoppolo had been working out well in Brady’s absence before suffering the injury to his right shoulder, helping the Patriots start the season 2-0 behind a completion percentage of 70 (42 completed passes in 60 attempts), four touchdown passes, no interceptions, and 498 passing yards without even getting through the first half of his second professional start.
Prior to being on the wrong end of that impact with Alonso on Sunday, he set the Patriots up for their eventual win over Miami with three touchdown passes — two to receiver Danny Amendola, the other to tight end Martellus Bennett — exiting the game with his team in front 21-0 after 18 completions in 27 attempts with under five minutes remaining in the half.
Whether Garoppolo or Brissett gets to start on Thursday, the Patriots will take the field before another undefeated squad in the Texans.
Led by six-foot-eight play-caller Brock Osweiler — who has thrown three touchdowns, three interceptions, and for 499 yards on 41 completions in 68 attempts — the Texans have gotten off to a hot start this season with Week 1 and Week 2 wins versus the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.
Osweiler, 25, went 5-2 as a starter for the Denver Broncos last season in lieu of the now-retired, then-injured-and-struggling Peyton Manning. Peyton assumed quarterbacking duties for Denver throughout last year’s playoffs, going out as a champ when the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Thursday’s Houston Texans-New England Patriots game, which will be broadcast on CBS and the NFL Network, is scheduled to kick off at 8:25 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images]