The Patriots have started off the season 2-0 and Jimmy Garoppolo has a QB rating of 117.2. Neither of those facts was expected to occur, as the Patriots continue to play their four games without Tom Brady.
This has raised some questions such as: who is more valuable, Belichick or Brady? Can anyone be successful in this system? While the current popular opinion is Belichick is now suddenly an offensive genius and all the credit should go to him, I think we should look at the facts. There is no doubt Garoppolo has played tremendously during these 1.5 games before he unfortunately hurt his throwing shoulder in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins. However the truth is, Garoppolo is the outlier. I think Garoppolo is just really good. Scouts were very high on him coming out of Eastern Illinois, he was drafted in the second round, and has learned from Brady for over two years now. By all accounts Garoppolo has taken full advantage of his time in New England and looks to have a very bright future, if he can stay healthy.
But this idea that Garoppolo’s success should somehow take away from Brady’s accomplishments is preposterous. People point to Matt Cassel, who took over for Brady in 2008 after he tore his ACL and the team went 11-5. And while that was an accomplishment for the Patriots and Cassel, the year before, with the same surrounding cast Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns and went 16-0. Brady threw more touchdowns to Randy Moss, 23, then Cassel threw the entire season, 21. So clearly there was still a huge drop off.
What about before Brady was the starter? Belichick was still the coach of the Patriots with a very respectable QB in Drew Bledsoe. However Bledsoe went 5-11 in the year 2000, and 0-2 in 2001 before Brady took over and won the Super Bowl that same year.
In my mind there is no debate that Belichick is the greatest coach of all time, I’m not arguing against that. What I am saying is not any NFL QB could be put into New England’s system and experience success. When we examine the entire history of the Belichick era in New England the facts suggest that maybe Jimmy G just is that good.