Barring a drastic reduction in his suspension on appeal, Tom Brady will miss the New England Patriots' Week Two game here against the Buffalo Bills.
That means it's a good time to learn a little more about the player who is in line to replace the star quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a name that some Bills fans may recognize from the meaningless 2014 season finale. In that game, Garoppolo played the second half for New England, which had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC postseason and had no incentive to win the game. That meant there was no incentive to play Brady for more than the first half.
The Bills wound up winning the game, 17-9, and Garoppolo had a nondescript performance -- finishing 10 of 17 (58.8 completion percentage) for 90 yards. He didn't throw any touchdowns or interceptions, and was sacked three times for a loss of 17 yards. He also rushed four times for 16 yards.
A 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, Garoppolo was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2014. He appeared in three games as a rookie, finishing the year 19 of 27 (70.4 completion percentage) for 182 yards and one touchdown. He had a passer rating of 101.2 and was sacked five times.
Garoppolo's lone touchdown pass came in a 41-14 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week Four. He went 6 of 7 for 70 yards in mop-up duty as the Patriots spared Brady any more hits in their worst performance of the season. Garoppolo's other appearance came in Week Eight, when he completed all three of his passes in a 51-23 blowout win over the Bears.
With such limited stats at the NFL level, it's necessary to look at Garoppolo's college career to fully understand why the Patriots used a second-round pick on him. Playing in the Football Championship Subdivision at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo broke all of Tony Romo's program records. He also set all of the major Ohio Valley Conference passing records, finishing his career with the Panthers completing 62.8 percent of his passes (1,047 of 1,668) for 13,156 yards, 118 touchdowns and 51 interceptions in 45 career games.
In his senior season of 2013, Garoppolo was a first-team FCS All-American and won the Walter Payton Award, which is the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy. That season, he threw for 5,050 yards, 53 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, recording 11 300-yard games and five with more than 400 yards.
At 62nd overall, Garoppolo is the highest-drafted player to ever come out of Eastern Illinois. He was the fifth quarterback selected in 2014, following Jacksonville's Blake Bortles (third overall), Cleveland's Johnny Manziel (22nd), Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater (32nd) and Oakland's Derek Carr (36th).
Via NFL.com's scouting report of Garoppolo in 2014, here are Garoppolo's strengths and weaknesses, according to Nolan Nawrocki.
"STRENGTHS: Has a very quick trigger and good wrist snap that translates to a smooth throwing motion and clean, compact delivery (no windup). Lightning release quickness. Urgent decision maker. Sells play-action. Athletic enough to slide in the pocket and buy time with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield. Good anticipation -- throws his receivers open. Can change ball speeds and drop it in a bucket. Does not take unnecessary sacks and will dump the ball. Will deliver the ball looking down the barrel of a gun. Tough-minded and poised in the pocket -- can withstand a hit and pop back up. Highly competitive. Smart, respected, vocal team leader. Very durable, experienced, four-year starter. Good football intelligence.
"WEAKNESSES Is a tad undersized with small hands and short arms. Uses a three-quarters delivery that could lead to batted balls. Works heavily out of the shotgun in a spread offense, and footwork could require adjustment to working from under center. Does not always feel pressure in the pocket. Does not rip the deep out or drive the ball with high RPMs. Undershoots and often hangs the deep ball. Makes receivers work for the ball downfield, and deep accuracy could stand to improve. Makes a lot of simple, one-look reads and was not heavily challenged by consistent pressure or complex looks in the Ohio Valley Conference."