By Mike C
As the start of the highly anticipated NFL season has come and gone, many storylines have developed, especially right here in New England.
Throughout last season, lasting all the way through training camp this July, Patriots fans, and the rest of the country saw Tom Brady’s “deflategate” punishment fluctuate drastically. It went from four games at the start of 2015, to none. To Brady winning his appeal. Then, the NFL took the overturned suspension to the second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually winning the case. Brady finally accepted the four, preposterous games at the start of the 2016-17 NFL season.
With Brady out for the first four games, it was now time for the 2014 second round pick out of Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo to prove himself.
Surprisingly, a small school like Eastern Illinois has produced its fair share of NFL talent. The Alma mater of several, NFL standouts such as all pro quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. Current Saint’s head coach and Super Bowl XLIV champion Sean Payton, and the legendary Mike Shanahan, have each come from Eastern Illinois. Could Jimmy Garoppolo be the next added to this list of NFL superiority?
Entering week one, New England fans had their doubts on the season opener against the defending NFC West champs and NFC Championship representative, the Arizona Cardinals.
All preseason and training camp in New England fans and media wondered things like “Well if the Patriots just go 2-2 without Brady they’ll be fine” or “Jimmy G 1-3” and “This Cardinals defense is known for feasting on rookie, inexperienced quarterbacks.”
This would undoubtedly the toughest task during Brady’s absence, as Arizona possesses one of the league’s elite defenses who are known to pick apart rookie quarterbacks, nevermind one making his first NFL start.
Prior to the game in Arizona, DHS senior, and Patriot lover Aidan C said, “I have the utmost confidence in Bellichick, this organization, this defense, and I have no doubts that we will come out unscathed.” Looking toward week one’s heavyweight showdown, he said, “Garoppolo throws a touchdown pass on his first series, and Jamie Collins scores on the other side of the ball with a pick six.”
The Patriots would go on to win their season opener 23-21 in dramatic fashion. I was able to catch up with junior Cullen D and hear his thoughts and takeaways from the game.
Next stop, Foxborough. Gilette Stadium, would be where the Patriots would host the Miami Dolphins in their home opener.
Coming off of a big win in Arizona, that came down to the wire, and was nationally televised. The Patriots were looking to ride that wave of confidence and emotion and roll over a lesser Dolphins team with question marks all over the depth chart in week 2.
Jimmy Garoppolo got off to a hot start in this one throwing for three touchdowns on his first three drives along with 234 passing yards.
Then about midway through the second quarter Garoppolo was hit as he threw and landed hard on his right shoulder, his throwing arm, and was sidelined with an undisclosed shoulder sprain for the remainder of the game.
At this point the Patriots were up 24-3 but it was not over. The Dolphins would come out and score on their first series of the second half and roared back to make it a one score game late in the fourth. The Patriots would hold on and win, but now, there were new questions emerging surrounding the quarterback position.
With the Patriots having a quick turnaround and playing in the dreaded Thursday Night Football Game with their backup hurt, who would they bring into play? Would they go with their 2016 third round pick out of NC State Jacoby Brissett?
As fans and media panicked and suspect headlines developed, Bellichick and his Patriots stayed calm. He opted to go with his guy that he drafted, Brissett, and put together an incredible defensive gameplan that shut down Houston’s high octane offense.
The Patriots went on to dominate yet again with another new quarterback, another “legitimate opponent” winning 27-0, a shutout where they absolutely controlled every phase of the game.
At this point it feels like no matter who is hurt, suspended, or how good the opponent, the Patriots cannot and will not be stopped as they take on Rex Ryan and his stingy Bills defense at home once again this Sunday, another divisional showdown.
After another 3-0 start for the Pats, DHS students are optimistic as senior Riley B said, “Vince Lombardi trophy? More like Bill Bellichick trophy.”
Senior Johnny B said, when asked how can the Patriots be stopped? “The only person, team, or living thing on this planet who can beat the patriots are an unheard of string of everyone getting injured and somehow Bellichick too.”
He also stated, “And Belichick is the greatest to ever do it, try to name a better head coach and I’ll give you twenty reasons why you’re wrong. Quote me on that!”
Oh, and in case you forgot, Tom Brady returns next week. This should get everyone excited.