New Kid in Town

Living in the football-mad region of New England, Monday morning quarterbacking is legion. Of course, those Monday morning discussions soon turn into Tuesday and Wednesday discussions extending throughout the day on Boston radio stations, all revolving around the QB position. That’s because in New England, football talk centers on one of the best in the history of the game.

To top it all off, starting last season, with all the hoopla about ball inflation and the National Football League’s “gotcha’” approach towards that quarterback—and this year’s continuation—as Tom Brady begins the 2016 season serving a four-game suspension, there’s no backing off discussions about the quarterback. The wrinkle this year is that in addition to Brady, we’re now talking Garoppolo, too.

Run, Jimmy, run.

Run, Jimmy, run.

Across the NFL, you won’t get much of an argument from the 31 other places outside of New England that the Patriots are not well-liked—and articles like this one, and this one (and a host of others) intimate that the team is hated by just about everyone else save those of us who love the red, white, and blue. So be it.

Similar to the anticipation that baseball fans feel prior to Opening Day, the NFL’s first week has football fans equally jacked-up. And this year,  when New England’s football team boarded their plane for the desert of Arizona, minus TB12, as well as Rob Gronkowski (and two starting offensive tackles), Pats-haters could be forgiven for doing just a little dancing—New England and their coach, Bill Belichick, would be facing a strong team without their quarterback and field general and leader. I expect that many of the haters had visions of an 0-4 record dancing in their empty heads, beginning with a game one loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Well, for one week at least, talk of New England’s demise can be put on hold. The Brady-less Patriots beat a team that was favored and I’d even say, over-hyped, albeit one with a strong defense and a high-octane receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, and a mercurial veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer who, when he’s on, can light up anyone’s secondary.

The story line for some following the Patriots’ improbable opening night victory remains centered on that the Cardinals couldn’t kick the game-winning field goal (field goals aren’t automatic in places that aren’t named New England). Another arc might be that Arizona didn’t play with the same passion and even desperation that New England did. Were they flat because they figured that they’d game plan Garoppolo into being a non-factor?

One thing New England football fans know for sure (and astute football fans elsewhere also recognize) is that Bill Belichick rarely gets outcoached. Sunday night’s win was another example among a scrapbook full of examples of Belichick’s genius as a coach, who on most game days (or nights) has his teams ready for whatever they’re likely to run up against.

And how about that new quarterback in town, Garoppolo? Not bad for his first NFL start, after serving as Brady’s understudy for the past three seasons. With a name that has some pizzazz, combined with an arm and some running ability, I’d say this bodes well for the next three games, too. In fact, he looked Brady-esque enough during the team’s 23-21 win on Sunday night that a region seemed to experience a collective exhale, and simply enjoyed watching football again.

New Englanders are feeling kind of giddy with one down, and three to go before Brady’s return. The rest of the league might have to wait just a bit longer for the demise of Bill Belichick’s team.

5 thoughts on “New Kid in Town

  1. Kinda silenced the “Belichick ain’t nothing without Brady” crowd.

    What amazed me was that, though the O-line wasn’t strong, it’s light years ahead of what it was last year. The Cardinals were supposed to swarm Jimmy G all night long, didn’t happen. But it was also apparent that the Cardinals D is not nearly as good as it’s made out to be. I think Buffalo, NYJ, and Miami will be tougher battles.

    The one real negative about Jimmy G doing well is that it almost guarantees he’ll be gone by next year. He’s too good to sit behind Brady for another three years, teams will pay outrageous prices for a proven QB, and the Pats will take the opportunity. The only way he stays is (shudder) if Brady goes down later this season.

    Belichick has been quoted as saying the hardest thing about coaching is getting the players to “buy in.” They want to do it their own way, freelance, not do the work to be able to do what they’re asked to do, and do it well. This team looked to me on Sunday night like they bought in 100%.

  2. @LP The pre-game analysis was exactly as you said–the Cards “vaunted” defense was going to make Garoppolo’s night, a long and miserable one. So much for the “experts.”

    I continue to be amazed how Belichick achieves that “buy-in” year after year.

  3. I had five brothers and spent years watching sports of every type. No longer but I am happy to see how enjoyable it is for many people. I hope everyone enjoys the football season.

  4. The early season “political drama” in other stadiums was unpleasant and spoiled my enjoyment of Week One to the point that I dismissed it from my mind. I did not watch or listen to any football. I think I’ll continue this scheme until Brady returns, but would appreciate a Monday morning Patriot’s post here until that time.

  5. http://www.patriots.com/video/2016/09/14/belichick-breakdown-top-plays-week-1

    These weekly episodes are great where Bill Belichick breaks down the plays of the preceding week that he thought made the greatest difference. Watch these, but pay special attention to the Arizona players and notice that while Bill is yakking about how his guys knew just where to go and what to do, the Arizona players almost always look clueless about what is happening all around them (and notice that cornerback who comes in to put a hand on Blount, but does nothing to actually try to stop him because Blount knocked him on his keester earlier in the game).

    Fortune favors the prepared, and nobody prepares more than Belichick’s Patriots.

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