The news that longtime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had left for the warmer and tax-friendlier climes of Florida by signing as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is obviously trivial given the dire COVID-19 outbreak.
Of course, the sports world’s being totally shut down is precisely why the news was so welcome. It gave sports fans a much-welcomed reprieve from the grim statistics and closures with which we’ve all become way too familiar over the last couple of weeks.
Brady’s accomplishments are too numerous to list, but in a 20-year career he has played in nine Super Bowls and led the winning team in six of them. Of course the fact that he played in the same division as our local American Football Conference franchise, the New York Jets, had been a source of frustration for Gang Green fans, though it should be noted that it was just one of many for them.
While it is understandable that many Jets fans are feeling euphoric about Brady exiting the AFC East they may want to take pause. Brady’s old head coach, Bill Belichick, is still running the Patriots, and he has proven to be very adept at plugging in personnel holes whenever needed.
It should be noted that Jimmy Garoppolo was Brady’s longtime understudy until Brady reportedly wanted him off the team. Belichick wasn’t happy about that but team owner Robert Kraft wanted to mollify his star QB and ordered Belichick, who doubles as the Patriots’ general manager, to trade Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers midway through the 2018 season.
Garoppolo immediately turned around the fortunes of the woeful 49ers, who had become cellar dwellers in the standings in recent seasons. He helped lead them into this year’s Super Bowl, though they were outclassed in the fourth quarter of the game by the victorious Kansas City Chiefs
I’ve always believed that one of the ways that the Jets would really know whether their top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Sam Darnold, is a stud or a dud, is if he were to lead the Jets to a win over Brady and the Pats. He failed to do so in three starts against them. He missed one game against the Brady Bunch as he recovered from mononucleosis.
One reason Darnold has been so-so is that he has had an awful offensive line protecting him in his first two seasons. Jets general manager Joe Douglas is trying to bolster that line in free agency as he has so far signed left tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and guard Greg Van Roten.
These aren’t household names by any means, but they should help the Jets improve in an area that has been a glaring weakness.