With the Patriots lacking both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on Sunday night, many folks (me) figured the Patriots were punting their season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona. But, instead of punting on the game, the Patriots leapt out to an early 7-0 first-quarter lead.
For that lead, the Patriots should thank Brady’s temporary replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo. Actually, the Patriots might want to thank the Cardinals for their blown coverage, which left Chris Hogan wide open for a 37-yard touchdown.
So, that’s a touchdown for Garoppolo on his very first drive as an NFL starting quarterback. And keep in mind, he’s not only playing without Gronk, he’s also playing behind a makeshift offensive line.
#Patriots out for Week 1
QB Tom Brady
RB Dion Lewis
TE Rob Gronkowski
LT Nate Solder
RT Sebastian Vollmer
G Jonathan Cooper
DE Rob Ninkovich
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 10, 2016
Patriots’ offensive line: LT Fleming, LG Thuney, C Andrews, RG Karras, RT Cannon.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 12, 2016
He’s also playing against a defense that ranked third in defensive DVOA, fifth in yards allowed, seventh in points surrendered, and second in takeaways a year ago. It’s a defense that also added ex-Patriot Chandler Jones in the offseason.
Reminder: 2 rookie OG’s, 2 backup OT’s, backup QB. On the road. Against a good defense. #Patriots
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) September 12, 2016
So, if Bill Belichick manages to win this game …
Source: CBS Sports / WATCH: Jimmy Garoppolo’s first drive as Patriots starter ends in a 37-yard TD