Another week, another debate on if Jimmy Garoppolo is the answer. I’m not here to change minds; either way, I’m just here to give you some things to think about. First of all, I’ve already gone over how he’s been comparable to, if not better than, several current “elite” NFL quarterbacks when they were at a similar point in their careers. That was his first five starts. Well, let’s get some more names. First of all, let’s get those numbers front and center via Pro Football Reference:
Yeah, kinda hard to put your finger on, isn’t it? He’s got a decent rating, some nice touchdown numbers, but man those interceptions are atrocious. There must be no hope for him, right? I mean, you learn the position in a year. He backed up Tom Brady after all. Should he have it all figured out, right? I mean...what what?
Wait...what? That’s Aaron Rodgers’ first year starting. His first ten games starting! He backed up Brett Favre for three years before that. And Garoppolo has three more touchdowns and four more picks on him? Oh, and more completions. And a higher passer rating. And more yards.
Now before you come in here to argue this, yes, game-by-game Rodgers turned in a higher passer rating. A few stinkers with a 55 passer rating or so drove the average down to where it’s less than Garoppolo. If not for those, he’d be in the mid 100s. But my point stands. Rodgers isn’t who he is now without going through that first season starting.
Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo has more starts at this point than Rodgers did in that sample size above, but a full season is something really needed in the experience department. And I didn’t hear anybody in 2008 talk about how Rodgers should be benched. I heard them say he couldn’t win when it matters (which was ridiculous on its own since it was his first season and he won the Super Bowl a couple of years later), but nothing like this.
Garoppolo’s biggest problem is his inexperience. I said before; you want a bad quarterback, I’ll point at Nathan Peterman. Garoppolo isn’t bad. He makes boneheaded throws, but those are things (hopefully) that come with more experience in the offense and starting in the league.
“Oh, Pat,” you say. “That’s not a good comparison. That’s just one guy.”
Alright fine. It might have been a different league at the time of this next comparison, but I’ll pull this one out anyway. I give you:
Yeah, I went there. Flame me all you want. Yes, it’s a different league then. Yes, that’s almost 30 years ago. Yes, you can make any of your arguments, and I’ll nod. But I don’t care, let’s have a look here.
This is Young’s first season as a starter after Joe Montana injured his elbow. Now, he didn’t play a full 16-game season thanks to getting injured himself, and man was that a rough season, which is why it’s important to bring it up. He did a lot of strange things.
Young had shown A LOT of flashes before this. Walsh was already making a storm alternating between him and Montana in a season prior to settling on Montana. If you looked at Young’s first ten starts in 1992, they are nearly identical to Garoppolo’s first ten starts now.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, besides the fact one of these guys has a Hall of Fame jacket, and there won’t be any debating the other one in a few years for a first-ballot? That they took their lumps also. I think when Pat Mahomes flashes after one season, there’s an expectation that all quarterbacks can be that good, that quickly. Um, no.
I’m not the brightest X’s and O’s guy, but I know quarterbacking takes time. Lots of it. It’s an investment. You have to see the ceiling of a player and withstand the inexperience that comes with it. In the business world, you don’t fire a guy you hired in a year unless he’s terrible at his job, you need to give them time to grow into the role. In Jimmy Garoppolo’s case, there are dumb throws, there’s strange reads or decisions, but there’s also a guy who hasn’t played a full season yet. Sure he’s had starts under his belt, but he’s probably still figuring out how a 16-game season works as the starter.
Will he be like Young, Rodgers, Brady, or anybody else I compare? Who knows. I just know that at this point right now, he’s in really good company with his progression. I also know stats lie, the tape doesn’t. Eight of those touchdowns from Garoppolo came from the Cardinals, and a lot of what he’s done has been from some pretty nice scheming from his head coach.
But then again, Rodgers had a team that his predecessor criticized for taking so long to win a Super Bowl with.
Sure, you can be “concerned,” but anyone who is down on Jimmy Garoppolo 10 games in or thinks he’s got no future or can’t figure it out needs to look at those two above. They sure as hell did.