NFL

Jimmy Garoppolo: It was invaluable to learn from Tom Brady

By Sports Desk July 17, 2019

Jimmy Garoppolo is grateful to have learned from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, New England Patriots superstar Tom Brady.

San Francisco 49ers QB Garoppolo was poised for a breakout NFL season in 2018 after escaping Tom Brady's shadow in New England, but a knee injury four weeks into the season halted those plans.

Now preparing for his comeback, Garoppolo still credits the Patriots star and six-time Super Bowl champion for helping him develop and ultimately be able to bounce back after studying under him for the first three years of his NFL career.

"The preparation as a whole was tremendous just to see it, to be in the same room as it, to learn from it," Garoppolo told The Ringer's Kevin Clark.

"To be a rookie and see that, it was invaluable. I can barely put it into words. What you learn is playing the game within the game, that's a big part of Tom.

"I don't even know if he told me that [directly], but he would always talk about the game within the game. He would talk about the snap count, and he'd say, 'You're going to go on two on this play' and he'd have a specific reason."

Garoppolo signed the biggest contract in NFL history at the time last season, a five-year deal worth $137.5million that carried a salary cap hit of $37m, though he went down with the season-ending injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 23 and had surgery October 3. 

The 27-year-old threw for 718 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions before being sidelined.

Now healthy again with some new targets after the Niners added Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd this offseason, Garoppolo is feeling optimistic about the future.

"The rehab has been great. The whole process, the training staff, and all the coaches put together a great plan. It really went well," Garoppolo said.

"To participate in [offseason training activities] the way I did and, hopefully, being full-go for training camp, I couldn't ask for much more coming off an ACL. Knock on wood; we'll keep it going and stay in a good place."

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  • Andrew Luck retires: Who is Jacoby Brissett and can he fill the void? Andrew Luck retires: Who is Jacoby Brissett and can he fill the void?

    Andrew Luck's shock retirement has thrust Jacoby Brissett into the limelight for the Indianapolis Colts.

    Before Luck announced his decision there had been talk of Brissett potentially being traded, though such suggestions were shut down by the Colts' front office.

    Now he is the man tasked with leading Frank Reich's offense and will have an extremely tough act to follow after Luck finished his fine career with a 2018 season that saw him throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns.

    But who is Brissett, and does he have what it takes to fill the void? Here we take a look at the Colts' new starting quarterback.

     

    When was Brissett drafted?

    Brissett entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2016 draft after a pair of stellar college seasons at NC State. After transferring from Florida, Brissett threw for 5,268 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions for the Wolfpack.

    How did the Colts acquire him?

    The Colts sent wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots to land Brissett in a trade in September 2017, giving them another option under center with Luck's status still up in the air as he recovered from surgery on a separated shoulder.

    What is his NFL experience?

    Indianapolis will have been convinced to trade for Brissett partially by his performance in relief of the suspended Tom Brady and injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 of the 2016 season. Brissett led the Patriots to a 27-0 victory and, with Brady guiding them to a Lombardi Trophy following his return, left New England with a Super Bowl ring.

    He replaced Scott Tolzien in Week 1 of the 2017 season as the Colts were thrashed 46-9 by the Los Angeles Rams. From there he started the remaining 15 games and, though he only managed to lead a poor Colts team to four victories, Brissett emerged from the campaign with plenty of credit. He threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

    Can he fill the void?

    "Jacoby Brissett is a winning football player in this league. Jacoby Brissett is a rare, rare leader. He is. He's a rare human being, man. That locker room loves Jacoby Brissett. They love him."

    Those were the words of Colts general manager Chris Ballard following Luck's retirement, making it clear Brissett will have the faith of the locker room.

    But is he good enough to ensure the Colts remain contenders post-Luck?

    There is no doubt he has the arm. Brissett has no problem throwing the long ball and, when Luck was still struggling with his shoulder last year, was brought on for a late Hail Mary attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles.

    In his 2017 season, Brissett also demonstrated the ability to go through his progressions and hang tough in the pocket even as it collapsed around him.

    He may not have to worry too much about the pocket disintegrating in his second go-around as starter. The Colts have invested heavily in the offensive line, in an effort to protect Luck from the injuries that ultimately brought an early end to his career, and 2018 draft picks Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith have done an excellent job of shoring things up in the trenches.

    Luck was sacked only 18 times in 2018, with Brissett having suffered 52 a year earlier.

    Brissett is a superior runner to Luck and the damage he can do with his legs adds another dimension to an offense featuring plenty of talent.

    In addition to an improving O-Line, Brissett has the benefit of one of the better offensive minds in the game in Reich, as well as an impressive array of pass-catching options including T.Y. Hilton, tight end Eric Ebron and electric rookie Parris Campbell.

    The Colts have done a tremendous job of putting Brissett in a position to succeed. For him to do so he will need to show greater consistency and accuracy.

    Completion percentage is not the ultimate barometer of the latter, but Brissett completed only 58.8 per cent of his passes in 2017. Luck's percentage was under 60 only twice in his six seasons.

    However, with Reich at the helm he has an ideal coach to help him realise his potential. Without Luck the Colts may not be the favourites to win the AFC South, but Brissett is capable of keeping them firmly in contention.

  • Andrew Luck retires: The quarterback's NFL career in numbers Andrew Luck retires: The quarterback's NFL career in numbers

    Andrew Luck rocked the NFL on Saturday when he confirmed he was retiring.

    The 29-year-old, who has battled injuries since entering the league with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, said at a press conference that his problems had "taken my joy of this game away".

    One of the most hyped quarterbacks to enter the NFL in recent years, former first overall pick Luck certainly lived up to the billing when he was able to get on the field.

    Here, we take a look at Luck's career in numbers.


    171 - The former Stanford Cardinal tossed 171 touchdowns with the Colts. In NFL history, only Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino threw more in their first 86 regular-season games.

    40 - Of those 171, 40 came in 2014 when Luck led the league in touchdown passes. Only eight men have thrown for more in a single season.

    53-33-0 - Indianapolis won 53 of the 86 regular-season games Luck started. The Colts won two AFC South titles in 2013 and 2014 and made the playoffs on four occasions in the Luck era.

    4 - Luck was named to the Pro Bowl four times and last season he won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.

    20 - There were 20 game-winning drives in Luck's career. Only Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford have had more since 2012.

    28 - The Colts were 28 points down to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs when Luck engineered what was, at the time, the second-biggest postseason comeback of all time on January 4, 2014.

    174 - Luck was sacked on 174 occasions in his career, with 156 of those coming in his first five years as a pro and 41 in his rookie campaign.

    4,374 - The record 4,374 yards Luck threw as a rookie remains the leading mark of any first-year quarterback.

    11 - Luck played the Tennessee Titans on 11 occasions in his career. The Colts won every single game. 

  • Colts owner Irsay doesn't rule out Luck returning to NFL Colts owner Irsay doesn't rule out Luck returning to NFL

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has not given up hoping he will see Andrew Luck back in the NFL following the star quarterback's shock retirement.

    Luck sent shockwaves through the NFL when he announced his retirement on Saturday, following the Colts' 27-17 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.

    The 29-year-old and four-time Pro Bowler cited injuries as a key factor behind his decision to quit American football.

    Luck – who suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2017 – was dealing with a lower leg/ankle/bone problem throughout the offseason that limited him to just three practice sessions heading into the campaign.

    Asked whether Luck could eventually return, Irsay told reporters: "I don't rule it out because as quickly as this thing descended on us and mysterious as it was, it could leave the same way.

    "That's just a fact. It's very hard to measure sometimes our human experience and we all perceive life from our chair. I would say it's possible."

    But Irsay is not banking on the slim chance Luck will have a change of heart.

    "We know we have to get on and play," Irsay added. "We are focused on having a great season. It's possible but no one knows and he would be the first to say it. Only time will tell."

    Luck was a Pro Bowl player in four of his six pro seasons and is fresh off a 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. He led the Colts to a 10-6 record last season and into the second round of the playoffs.

    Colts head coach Frank Reich only had positive things to say about what Luck brought to Indianapolis since being selected first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    "Being in that room with him for the last 18 months was just the experience of a lifetime," Reich said. "You know, a true competitor in every sense of the word, a great team-mate and just one of the truly unique players to ever put on an NFL uniform and certainly, to wear that horseshoe proud. So, for the coaching staff in that locker room, just getting a chance to work with this guy every day was incredible."

    Now Indianapolis are focused on moving forward with Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Colts when Luck sat out for all of 2017 to recover from a shoulder injury.

    "There's a saying in football that everyone knows and everybody lives by, it’s next man up and even though this situation is unique, no one is exempt," Reich said.

    The Colts will kick off their 2019 season away to the Los Angeles Chargers on September 8, with Brissett under centre.

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