Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFL Players, Inc.

Jimmy G: The Next ______s’ QB?

By Austin Paolillo

With NFL free agency quickly approaching and the draft shortly behind it, quite a handful of teams are lacking a starting quarterback, namely: The New York Jets, the Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns, and the San Francisco 49ers.

There’s also teams like the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers that might be looking to get a head start and find a successor to their current quarterback. Whatever the case may be, to fill this void, these teams may be looking to do so via free agency, the draft, or even by trade.

While there’s plenty of options out there, there’s undoubtedly always the prospect that everyone wants. He’s the pretty girl posted up at the bar alone in a black crop top and tight, white jeans. The seas of single fellas are dropping their tongues and banging the tables and hitting their heads with giant, cartoon, wooden mallets. She has this essence to her. It’s this uncanny appeal — a je nais se quoi. Or maybe it’s just her rockin’ bod? Everyone’s talking about her. The men want her, and the women want to be her. This one in particular isn’t single, but her boyfriend is willing to trade her for the right price. She is Jimmy Garoppolo, and he may just be the hottest, somewhat-single, quarterback commodity out right now.

If you’ve been tuned into the NFL buzz, you’ve more than likely heard the trade talks swirling around Garoppolo and the New England Patriots. The Patriots seem very high on this guy, with notable players claiming he’s comparable to Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre (Julian Edelman) and that they sometimes can’t tell the difference between him and Tom Brady (Malcolm Butler), respectively. The whole organization has adopted this we-want-a-first-rounder-or-boy-bye mentality . That’s all well and good, but how do you back these claims? What is it that he’s accomplished that makes him worth this supposed king’s ransom that the Patriots are demanding?

It’s a very tricky topic and a tougher question than it seems. Nevertheless, we will weather this storm together. Throughout this article, I will provide you with statistics and discuss how much I think a team should give up for Garoppolo. Could he be the next Matt Cassel? Or is he more like the next Aaron Rodgers? Well, before we go any further, let’s break this all down. Let’s check the stats…

Garoppolo, during his three years in the league, attempted a pass in 9 of the 17 games he has appeared in (with the other 8 games being games he came in to kneel it out). In those games, he compiled:

  • 5 touchdown passes
  • 0 interceptions
  • 690 passing yards
  • 94 passing attempts
  • 63 completions
  • 67% Completion percentage
  • 8 sacks
  • 2 fumbles (1 lost)

(Statistics per NFL.com)

He is also 1–0 when he starts and finishes a game (which also happens to be his all-time record, considering he has only started and played one game to its entirety). This win came in week 1 of the 2016 season against the Arizona Cardinals. He threw for 264 yards and a touchdown, fumbled twice and lost one of them. He played OK in this game. He was certainly no x-factor, but he did help. The Cardinals also helped themselves lose, missing a 47-yard field goal on their last drive that could have won them the game.

He had some good throws, such as the one below:

(Video per NFL.com)

And he had some bad throws, such as the one below:

(Video per NFL.com)

Overall, it was what you would expect from a back-up in his first NFL start:

(Video per NFL.com)

He played very… green. He did, though, flash some potential — and that is what’s important.

His best game arguably came against the Miami Dolphins in week 2 of 2016, where he threw for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had a 69% completion percentage (18 of 26). He did, however, exit this game early, leaving in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. This was unfortunate for him because:

A. He was slinging heat before he left.

(Video per NFL.com)

B. This injury would prevent him from participating in the rest of his audition (until Brady returned from suspension in week 5).

BUT, not to take from Garoppolo’s success (but to take from his success), it’s very important to note that the Dolphins were in possession of quite possibly the worst secondary and one of the worst all-around defenses at that point in the season. Yes, he played great, and that should be commended, but let us not forget who was on the receiving end of his pummeling. To me, his 264 yards and 1 touchdown versus a much more competent Cardinals’ defense (ranked 5th in total defense in 2015 by NFL.com) is more telling.

These two games are where the majority of his statistics came from (502 of his yards and 4 of his 5 touchdown passes). These were also the two games in which he was the designated starting quarterback. So it appropriately follows that we should derive our judgment off of these games. Before I make this final judgment, however, I’d like to tackle this Rodgers comparison.

Let’s pull up some pre-starter statistics for Rodgers:

Over three seasons of being a back-up, from 2005–2007, Rodgers attempted a pass in 6 of 7 games that he appeared in. Out of those games, he compiled:

  • 1 touchdown pass
  • 1 interception
  • 339 passing yards
  • 59 attempts
  • 35 completions
  • 59% completion percentage
  • 9 sacks
  • 3 fumbles (3 lost)

(Stats per NFL.com)

As you can see, Rodgers and Garoppolo are somewhat similar. Garoppolo has more stats and definitely more games played as a backup, though.

Also, for fun, I’ll throw some pre-starter Favre facts at you. I would have supplied you more, but as you’ll read below there wasn’t much to pull up for him.

Fun facts: Drafted out of the second round (33rd overall) of the 1991 draft, Favre only served as the Atlanta Falcons’ backup quarterback for one season until he was traded to the Green Bay Packers for a first-round pick. In his time in Atlanta, he attempted four passes, completed none of them, and threw two interceptions. His first regular-season pass attempt ever resulted in a pick six.

The only similarities I can draw for Garoppolo and Favre is their draft position and what was given up for Favre, what is expected to be given up for Garoppolo. Garoppolo, as the statistics show, has quite a bit more experience than Favre had when Favre was traded. If one were to base their argument off of this point, one could make the case that is Garoppolo is worth a first round pick… and maybe more.

The comparison for Rodgers and Garoppolo is much easier to make. It could be said that both were drafted to eventually succeed the current starting quarterback for both respective teams (Favre and Brady). Both were meant to sit and learn for a couple seasons. And both received a decent amount of backup reps (Garoppolo receiving more of the two).

Anyway you look at it, Garoppolo has more experience than Favre and Rodgers did during their season(s) as backups. So if an argument was to be posed along the lines of “Jimmy Garoppolo shouldn’t be traded as if he were a Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers in the making because how could you know if they will be as great as either of them,” then it would surely be a very weak argument based on the statistics, and it would be doing Garoppolo a very ignorant disservice.

Now that we’ve discussed Garoppolo’s starts a bit and drawn some comparisons, I think it may be time. So, reverting back to the topic at hand… would you like my answer?

I think Garoppolo is worth the Browns’ second first-round pick (12th overall). I think he’s currently better than any quarterback in this draft, and if he were in this draft, he would most likely be one of the first quarterbacks taken (if not the first).

However, I think this situation is particular to the Browns. They have two first-round picks. They can potentially trade out of the first overall spot and acquire more picks. Why not roll the dice with Garoppolo and see what you get? It can’t get much worse (I’m sorry, Brownies).

I don’t see any of the other quarterback-needy teams needing to fork over a first rounder for Garoppolo. The Jets have Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty to audition, the Bears could survive if needed with Jay Cutler, and the 49ers seem to have their sights set higher… *cough* *cough* Kirk cousins.

Would you like a wacky, dark horse scenario?

I think the Kansas City Chiefs could be in play. I like Alex Smith. He’s great at managing games. But, I believe he can sometimes hold that offense back in regards to its overall production and potential. Maybe with a less conservative approach and quarterback, the Chiefs may be able to venture further into the playoffs.

Now that you’ve seen what I’ve had to say about Garoppolo, let’s see what the rest of the team thinks of him. Below is a quick list of Garoppolo’s destination speculations and predictions courtesy of team FATstats. As always, thank you for reading.

Bobby Souza, Team FATstats: “There’s the eye test, and then there are results. Garoppolo has too small of a sample size to judge results. My gut says he doesn’t have the “it” factor, and his performances were just a reflection of the Patriots’ offensives schemes. However, due to his upside (his draft position and whom he sat behind for three years), I believe it’s a practical decision to make a trade for him. With a solid running back and O-line, he could be a great game manager. I think the Bears make a move and trade a second rounder for him.”

Alec Depofi, Team FATstats: “I think the Cardinals trade for Garoppolo. Maybe give up a second rounder this year and a conditional pick based on possible performance. Garoppolo would be a perfect match considering Carson Palmer is playing his last season and Bruce Arians’ coaching savvy.”

Chase Cachillo, Team FATstats: “I personally think he’s going to the Browns for their second-round pick (33rd overall). But that’s the most I would give up. There’s too much history of quarterbacks with limited experience getting traded that didn’t turn out to be good (see Robert Kelly, A.J Feely, Matt Cassel).”

Vince Jacovino, Team FATstats: “Great quarterbacks are sought after like the holy grail. Teams hand out mass amounts of fun tokens to lure a prospect in, hoping he blooms like a fast-motion nature show. The Browns for a first rounder, book it!

Keith Rabinowitz, Team FATstats: “I think he either stays in New England for the remainder of his contract or heads to Chi-town. He’s worth a third rounder but the Patriots can probably work a second.”

Michael Papa, Team FATstats:I think he’s worth a first-round pick. He’s young, has three years of experience under his belt, and has learned behind one of the NFL’s best in Brady. I don’t see him being traded, but if I’d have to guess, it would be either the Bears or the 49ers that make a play for him.”

Kyle Tyson, Team FATstats: “I think the Browns need all the help they can get. Who better than the guy that sat and learned day in and day out from one of the greatest to ever do it. My price tag is a second rounder, but perhaps they even saltbae an additional, late-round pick out of the interested team. Is saltbae a verb now?”

(Images per NFL.com)

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