It wouldn't be fair to expect the same out of Garopollo as we do with Brady, but at the same time you cannot over look the importance of these games. While the difference between starting 3-1 and 2-2 doesn't appear as too much, one game in the NFL can drastically change a teams season. Take last year for example, take away one win from the 2015 Patriots and they don't get a first round bye and need to win two games on the road in order to even reach the Superbowl. Add one win, and they play the AFC Championship game at home, and in my eyes most likely win that game. So what is the fair outlook for what Garopollo will be faced with in the first month of the season?
The good: Most quarterbacks entering their first starts in the NFL don't have anywhere near the same luxuries that Garopollo will when he takes the field in Arizona.
Josh Mcdaniels is a proven, smart and experienced offensive coordinator who will devise simple game plans for Garopollo to follow. I imagine they will shorten up the playbook and all him to play around his strengths.
Bill Belichick is among the best coaches on the planet, for any sport. He was able to lead the Matt Cassel led Patriots to an 11-5 record in the 2008 regular season, and is one of the few coaches in football who can truly win a game from the sidelines.
Garopollo will also be fortunate to have one of the best offensive line coaches Dante Scarnecchia coming out of retirement to protect him in the pocket. Some of the names Garopollo will need to face are Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, JJ Watt, Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, so he will need all the protection he can get.
Every quarter back in the NFL would kill to have Rob Gronkowski as a target to throw to. A man who I believe is quite simply the most dominant player in the game who can take loads of pressure of the shoulders of his quarterback. Add in another probowl tight end Martellus Bennett, and your looking at one of the most extraordinarily gifted group of big guys to throw to in the entire NFL.
Toss a guy named Julian Edelman into the mix along with other names such as Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and a quick, illusive pass catching running back as a safety valve out of the backfield in Dion Lewis as well, Garopollo will certainly have all the help he needs on the outside.
These will be Garopollo's first four starts in the NFL, which is just not any easy thing to do. He will have his nerves, he will make mistakes, he will not be the same poised, experienced quarterback as we know Tom Brady to be.
Without a trusted quarterback, the Patriots cant be nearly as aggressive as they are on a third and long, they cant put the ball in Garopollo's hands and let him sling it as they would with number 12. Garopollo also wont be as active at the line of scrimmage. He can't read a blitz package they way Brady can, he most likely wont change the play in the huddle much at all. I expect him to be in the huddle, echo the sidelines and get out and run whatever is called, which has it's disadvantages.
Garopollo will also be faced with the challenge of having to deal with a short week heading into week 3's thursday night matchup at home vs the Texans. I believe that will be his personal toughest task having to expedite a process he has only really gone through just once.
Overall, I don't believe he will asked to do too much in these four games. I think the team will rely on their coaching and defense and need Jimmy to deliver not much more than 3 or 4 big plays a game, and allow the Patriots to win as a team.
My prediction: 3-1.
Going into Arizona for a night game in your first ever NFL start is a tough thing to do, but following that, I firmly believe Garopollo is still going to be the best quarterback on the field for the next 3 weeks and that the Patriots are significantly more disciplined, fundamentally sound and talented then the opponents they will be facing.