With extreme intensity and high stakes, injury always follows closely behind professional athletes. But to the New England Patriots, injury has quickly become an over-told joke. Just two weeks into the season, the Pats now have to make plans to field a fourth-string quarterback.
The team’s first pick, Tom Brady, is still serving his four-game suspension due to last season’s “Deflategate” scandal, during which the Patriots were accused of tampering with the inflation of footballs during the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Colts. As a result, the NFL suspended Brady, who was pinned as a major contributor to the scandal. Brady will return in week five against the Browns on Oct. 5.
With Brady on the bench, the Patriots’ second-string QB Jimmy Garoppolo took the pitch for the Patriot’s first game of the season against the Cardinals. Garoppolo excelled, finishing the game completing 24 of 33 passes for a total of 264 yards and no interceptions. Garoppolo soon flew to the top of the leaderboards for quarterback performance, landing an eighth place rank in the league. But this success was sadly interrupted. In the second game of the season Miami Dolphin Kiko Alonso hit Garoppolo so hard that he’s now benched with a shoulder injury.
Next in line was third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who started the game against the Houston Texans on Thursday, Sept. 22. Brissett had an excellent performance as he led the Patriots to a blowout victory 27-0. Following suit, Brissett suffered a finger injury at the hands of linebacker Vince Wilfork. After extensive examination, trainers concluded that Brissett tore a thumb ligament in his throwing hand and needed surgery. To the bench he goes.
So who is up next?
New England will now look to play their fourth pick Julian Edelman. The Patriots drafted Edelman as a receiver, but he played quarterback at Kent State College. This collegiate experience may have to be enough for the Patriots as they scramble to find another quarterback before the game against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 2.
The possibility of Edelman suiting up as quarterback has accumulated both support and serious concern. In fact, Edelman’s own father questioned his son’s ability to execute well as quarterback on such short notice. So just how much discrepancy is there between starting quarterback and the fourth-string quarterback?
Before 1991, the NFL even prohibited teams from keeping more than three quarterbacks. Since then, only select NFL teams draft a third quarterback, let alone a fourth-string, for times of emergency. These backup quarterbacks barely practice because all the priority is naturally placed on the starting and second-string QB.
In an interview with the New York Times, ex-NFL quarterback Steve Beurelein admitted, “The third-string quarterback gets absolutely no reps with the starters during practice … They’re just watching, going over plays in their mind.”
So while Brissett at least watched the other Patriot quarterbacks during practice, Edelman didn’t even have that position on his radar. He was focused on his duty as a linemen. With the Bills contest on the horizon, Edelman needs a significant shift in gears if he plans to lead New England to victory.
Over his three years as Kent State’s QB, Edelman completed 385 of 706 passes for 4997 yards and executed 30 throwing touchdowns. Despite his success, the last time Edelman suited as a quarterback was in 2008, eight years ago. This begs the question: Will Edelman’s distant experience as quarterback be enough?
On a wing and a prayer, the New England Patriots will put all of their faith in Edelman to remain undefeated.