Column: Garoppolo dealt the best possible hand

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Jimmy Garoppolo was dealt the perfect hand when the New England Patriots drafted him with the 60th pick overall in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Coming into New England meant learning from one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game; Tom Brady. Brady is entering his 17th season in the NFL and has some historic numbers to go with his name.

He is a two-time NFL MVP, four-time Super Bowl Champion (in six appearances) and he has the best record of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl Era of 194-60, just six wins behind Peyton Manning, who has the most wins as a quarterback.

Even at 37 years old, Brady still proved he had it in his Super Bowl season in 2014 and even improved in 2015 after escaping his suspension, which came back in 2016 and will sideline him for the first four games.

And yes, Brady’s fourth Super Bowl title included Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster. As a kid fresh out of college, Garoppolo was a Super Bowl Champion less than a year later. A start to a career that any NFL-bound player could only dream of. Better yet, be brought up by Brady.

Of course, people around Eastern want to see him be the starting quarterback right now, but why rush it? And you cannot just bench Brady, except for the suspension put on him by the league.

It is hard to tell when Brady will hang up the cleats with how great he is playing even at an “older” age. This goes two ways for Garoppolo, but in the end, it helps him more than it hurts him. One: Brady still proving he is an elite quarterback may keep Garoppolo from being “the guy” beyond these four games. But on the bright side for Garoppolo, he is still young and can really take advantage of learning from one of the best quarterbacks to play the game.

Brady cannot play forever, obviously, and that means someone will have to take the reins of the New England offense when he does decide to retire. Or if he decides to pull a Brett Favre, retire, and then come back again. Probably not going to happen.

With Brady’s four-game suspension set to take effect the first game of the regular season, Garoppolo will be “the guy” for the time being. And while he is just taking over for Brady while he faces his punishment for “deflategate,” this is his shot to show New England fans, coaching staff, teammates and the rest of the NFL that when his time rolls around, they will still be the “Patriots” that everyone is scared to play.

Garoppolo has gotten a crack at some playing time in the preseason in 2016, with his first game coming against the New Orleans Saints. The Arlington Heights native threw for 168 yards, completing 11 of his 18 pass attempts.

He also showed that he has the ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL the following week, beating the Chicago Bears. Garoppolo played the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter. He improved on his first week, throwing for 181 yards with a 16-yard touchdown pass.

In New England right now, Garoppolo is joined by former Eastern teammate, Kamu Grugier-Hill, who is also looking to make his mark with the Patriots.

Some of us were lucky enough to see Garoppolo play while he was at Eastern, but now we can all watch him grow into an NFL player.

He became commonly known as “Jimmy G” around the Charleston and Eastern community, but it may not be long before “Jimmy G” is a common household name in New England and in the NFL world.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]