Sunday 7: Why is there so much criticism of Jimmy Garoppolo?

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1. Jimmy Garoppolo is a fine NFL quarterback. Is he elite? No. But, he certainly is in the top half of the league. He may even be better than the current QB under center in New England. And the fact of the matter is all he’s done since he left New England is win. His .767 winning percentage only trails Patrick Mahomes (.784) and Tom Brady (.772) among 212 quarterbacks with 30-plus starts since 1970. Despite all that, the narrative surrounding Garoppolo in New England dating back to the Super Bowl last year is he isn’t that good — he was carried to the Super Bowl by the 49ers running game and defense, he’s injury-prone, etc. Why in a matter of three years has Garoppolo gone from a fan favorite in these parts to now a player people are jumping to find every flaw of? Last year, Garoppolo had a completion percentage of 69, threw for 3,978 yards and had 27 touchdowns to go along with 13 interceptions. Compare that to Tom Brady in 2003 and 2004 (both Super Bowl wins) when over those two years his completion percentage was 60, he averaged 3,656 yards, 25.5 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Why even with better numbers is the narrative so much different with Garoppolo now than it was with Brady then? This isn’t saying Garoppolo should be compared to Brady by any means, but it’s to show that he doesn’t deserve all the criticism that he’s received for the last 10 or so months. While he’s not in the top five in terms of NFL quarterbacks, he’s still pretty damn good and a player most NFL teams would love to have at the position.

2. The way the Patriots have talked this week, they better hope they win on Sunday. Bill Belichick pointed out multiple times this past week how the team did not practice much ahead of the Denver game and then Cam Newton said the “excuse bucket is running low.” What will be said if the Patriots do indeed fall to the 49ers this week? They had a full week of practice and got a number of their COVID/injured players back. There are really no more excuses and a loss would drop them to 2-4, an indication that maybe they just aren’t all that good. Yes, it’s only Week 7, but this is a very big game.

3. It’s pretty clear by now that Brady is running the show in Tampa Bay. In the offseason Bruce Arians was pretty adamant the Bucs would not be interested in Antonio Brown, but yet he agreed to a one-year deal this weekend. Does Tampa Bay even need him? They already have two of the best wide outs in the game in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to go along with Rob Gronkowski at tight end. How is Brady supposed to keep all these players happy when it comes to getting the targets they think they deserve? Any issue/drama that could potentially happen with Brown is on Brady, which begs the question, how is it worth it for him? At this point, it’s almost like the Bucs are expected to score 30-plus points a week and win every game they play. It feels like Brady is putting some extra pressure on himself that wasn’t really necessary.

4. It certainly feels like the Patriots are managing Julian Edelman’s snaps, as they are down 15-18 percent from previous years. He has played 75 percent of the snaps or less in four of the five games so far this year. Speaking Friday, Edelman was asked how he’s handling it. "Hey, our coaching staff has been here and had a tight group for a very long time,” he said. “Josh [McDaniels] knows me very well. I've played under him for the past nine, 10 years. Whatever he asks me to do, I'm going to do. That's one of our leaders of our unit. That's my job as a player, try to go out and just do what they ask me to do and let them worry about the grand scheme, big picture whatever.”

5. For the first time in roughly a month, the Patriots should have a normal offensive line when they take to the field Sunday afternoon. David Andrews is expected back from a broken thumb that had him on injured reserve the last month or so, which will allow Joe Thuney to go back to his normal spot at left guard. And then with Shaq Mason back, Michael Onwenu can slide out to right tackle. Based on how Onwenu has played this year, the best five Patriots offensive lineman will be on the field and could lead to another solid day on the ground for the offense.

6. Given the new COVID rules with players needing to wait roughly a week to report to their new teams, don’t be surprised if a few deals get made this week — one week ahead of the NFL trade deadline (Nov. 3). We’ve already seen several get made as some teams know they will be sellers. The Patriots are in an interesting spot as the potential is there for them to be both sellers and buyers.

7. Regardless of what happens on Sunday against San Fran, next Sunday’s game in Buffalo will be huge, perhaps one of the biggest early season division games in recent memory. Buffalo is 4-2 on the year and taking on the Jets this week, so they might as already be 5-2. While no one is looking ahead inside the Gillette Stadium facility, next week’s game is very important when it comes to who will win the AFC East. A loss to the Bills, even with a win over the 49ers, would put the Patriots in  tough spot when it comes to winning the division for a 12th straight year.