One thing’s for sure. They’re going to cover every possible storyline leading into Super Bowl LI.
As players and coaches make their media rounds in Houston, they’ll hear questions they never thought would be asked. But that’s Super Bowl week for you.
Some questions will be completely justified. Others will be so irrelevant that you’ll wonder how the person asking the question was able to get a credential in the first place.
I’m not going to Houston. But I know that, at some point, the cameras, microphones, and other recording devices will be in the face of Jimmy Garoppolo. And rightfully so.
The New England Patriots backup quarterback was good for two wins this season. While Tom Brady served his four-game Deflategate suspension, Garoppolo went into Arizona in Week 1 and threw for 264 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions, as the Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21.
The next week, Garoppolo carved up the Miami Dolphins’ defense at Gillette Stadium before leaving the game late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Prior to getting hurt, Garoppolo threw three touchdowns and was 18-of-26 for 232 yards in the air. The Patriots had a 21-0 lead thanks to his performance. But that would be the last game he’d start all season.
Third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett took over in Weeks 3 and 4, until Brady returned from his suspension in Week 5. But nobody in New England has forgotten about Garoppolo’s performance, as small a sample size as it was.
So as a 39-year-old Brady gets set to take the field on Feb. 5, for what will be his seventh Super Bowl appearance, Garoppolo will have some type of media availability next week, and he’ll be asked about his future. Because of that, it’s safe to say that Bill Belichick will also be asked about Garoppolo’s future.
Belichick’s response will be what you’d expect.
“I’m just focused on the Atlanta Falcons.”
As he should be. And so am I, to be completely honest. But since I know it’s going to come up, I’m here to tell you what Belichick should do with Garoppolo.
Now, this is all assuming the 26-year-old backup doesn’t want to be a backup any longer. I’m willing to bet that’s a safe assumption, especially since he was able to put his talents on display earlier this season.
That, and, who the hell wants to be a backup?
Garoppolo has one more year left on his contract. He’s already been here for three years. He’ll be Brady’s backup once again next year. That is, if he’s still in New England.
If I’m Belichick, I’m kicking the tires on Garoppolo’s trade value this offseason. Again, this is assuming Garoppolo will just take off after next year to be a starter somewhere else. If he wanted to re-sign and stick around until Brady calls it quits, then that would be the obvious best-case scenario. But c’mon. At the end of the day, this is a business, and I don’t care how much you enjoy being a part of the Patriots organization. Nobody wants to re-sign to be a backup.
So, if I’m Belichick, I don’t let Garoppolo choose his own destiny after the 2017 season. I put him on the trade block this offseason, at a time in which it’s never been more evident that you need to have a quarterback in this league if you want to play into January.
Teams who need a QB — and there are plenty of them — will make the obvious call to Jerry Jones and see if they can take Tony Romo off the Dallas Cowboys’ hands. But why would you trade for a soon-to-be 37-year-old if you could acquire Garoppolo? Seems like a perfect time to create a bidding war on the trade market, if you’re Belichick.
Because, my last concern is a “quarterback of the future.” In my opinion, there’s really only one way you can play this, if you’re the Patriots organization. You have to win as much as you can, right now. And the Patriots’ best chance to do that is with Brady.
There’s a reason why the Pats are already the favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl: Brady and Belichick.
What they’re doing right now is something we will never see again. Not just in this city, and not just in this sport. In the history of sports in any city.
Again, that’s my opinion. But since I can’t speak for anyone else’s city or team, let me bring it back to Boston
Do you really think the Red Sox, Celtics, or Bruins can put together the type of run that Brady and Belichick have put together over the last 16 years? There’s no way.
If anything, maybe an NBA team could come close, only because it’s a superstar-driven league more than MLB or the NHL. But that might even be a stretch because NBA superstars no longer want to stay with the same organization their entire careers. Just ask LeBron James. Or Kevin Durant.
What Brady and Belichick are doing is unprecedented. Unfortunately, sometimes people need to be reminded of that. People need to be reminded that there will be a time after Brady and Belichick. And regardless of how good Garoppolo would be in a post-Brady era, the Patriots will never have another run like the one they’re currently on.
If I’m Belichick — as a guy who loves the history of the game — I’m embracing this. I’m holding onto Brady for as long as I can. I’m not worrying about the backup quarterback right now. I’m taking the next two, three, maybe a handful of years and winning as much as I can.
So as they cover every possible angle leading up to Super Bowl LI kickoff, Belichick will most likely be asked about Garoppolo’s future in New England.
He won’t answer the question with transparency. But deep down inside, I hope he knows one thing, and one thing only.
It will never get better than this.