Earlier this week, there were several reports that the San Francisco 49ers had acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 49ers traded a “2018 2nd-round draft pick to New England for Patriots’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo”. Although Garoppolo joining the team seems like a move that would help the team ahead in the right direction, that is not necessarily the case.
Throughout the first two games of last season, the New England Patriots coaching staff knew that the opposing team would stack the box in an attempt to shut down the running game. This defensive strategy was implemented to see if Jimmy Garoppolo could put the offense on his shoulders and carry the team to victory. Unfortunately, the Patriots had a different plan in mind as they implemented a game plan where Garoppolo was in charge of handing the ball off and throwing quick passes. For instance, during the first half against the Cardinals, the Patriots called a bunch of passing plays centered around slant routes, out routes, routes to the flats and screens. These plays are quick to develop and allow the team to exploit a tiny window where the receivers have one or two steps on the defenders. This is because defenders aren’t used to back peddling for more than five to ten steps hence they have to take one or two steps to turn their body around.
Furthermore, these plays allowed the team to reduce the amount of pressure, hits, and sacks he received from the opposing team; because the defense didn’t have enough time to get to the offensive line. Another benefit to running a conservative offense is that the Patriots gave their defense a chance to rest between possessions. According to teamrankings.com, over the first two games of the regular season, the offense was on the field for 35:22 which means that the defense was only on the field for 24:38. As a result, they were in a better position to make a defensive stop because the unit isn’t fatigued.
However, it will be an entirely different story for Jimmy Garoppolo during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. This is because Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch want to give Garoppolo as many opportunities as possible to prove that trading a 2nd round pick and negotiating a long-term extension is the right decision. Due to this, the team would call a lot of passing plays to give him a chance to demonstrate that he isn’t just a game manager and is capable of making all the necessary throws to lead the team to victory. While it is reasonable to expect an organization to give their new investment many opportunities to prove themselves at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. For instance, if Garoppolo gets the chance to throw a lot, the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in short drives. As a result, the defense would have to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest which leads to the unit being more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense.
In conclusion, the constant evaluation process to determine whether Garoppolo is a franchise quarterback will elevate his statistics; but will hurt overall team success causing them to miss the playoffs for multiple seasons.