Patriots players agree: Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal

Patriots players agree: Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal

Pretty rare for a backup quarterback to be one of the most talked about players as we enter the NFL offseason, especially one with about six relevant quarters under his belt, but everywhere you turn these days, people are talking about Jimmy Garoppolo. When will the Patriots trade him? What will they get for him? What should they get for him? Should they even trade him at all? That noise hasn’t bothered Garoppolo, who was repeatedly asked about it during Super Bowl week.

“I can’t control it. I can’t control any of it. I can just control myself,” he told me at one point. And then he smiled. Jimmy is always smiling, even on the practice field, where he’s done most of his work.

“He can ball,” said Duron Harmon. “He’s not afraid of anything.”

“Oh man, Jimmy is really good. Lot of times, you can’t tell the difference (between Garoppolo and Tom Brady),” Malcolm Butler added, echoing something Bill Belichick said late in the year, catching many off guard.

Garoppolo and Brady? Well if Garoppolo is the sponge they say he is, and he absorbed three years worth of intel from Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, then maybe he can at least be a good player in this league for a long time.

“I learned a ton, a ton (from Brady and McDaniels),” said Garoppolo. “The knowledge between the two of them, they’ve been doing it for 17 years in the same offense. It’s helped me a ton and it will only help me going forward.”

Julian Edelman gets to be on Garoppolo’s side for many a practice, and was in the huddle at the start of the season when the 3rd year pro had to step in for the suspended Brady. He told NFL Network that the Eastern Illinois product has something you can’t coach.

“I’m not a paid GM, so I don’t know the whole value thing, but as far as a guy I get to play with every single day, Jimmy Garoppolo, the guy’s a stud,” Edelman said on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." “He went out and played in the regular season, and he played very well. He’s got that kind of gunslinger kind of confidence, that Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers-kind of confidence. He practices hard, he prepares hard, he’s a good kid, he’s young. I think he’s a good player.”

That may have pained Edelman to say. His bromance with Brady is well-documented, but the wide receiver is no dummy. Edelman saw what his teammates saw, what his coaches saw, and what the Pats are banking other team saw as they search for a franchise quarterback.

“I want him on our team,” said McDaniels, adding that that was a decision he doesn’t get to make. “He’s a professional now. He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s learned. He knows how to handle himself. He can play, and play at a high level.”

“Man, I don’t know, but I know he’s good. I know he’s great,” said Butler.

“Jimmy can play in this league and play for a long time,” Chris Hogan offered. “To go into to [the season-opener in] Arizona, and play like he did tells you a lot.”

Garoppolo wouldn’t get into all that, repeating his familiar refrain, “Just being in the NFL is a privilege, it's a hard thing to do. Whenever you get the opportunity to play you've got to take advantage of it.”

He did -- and now the Patriots and Garoppolo may both reap the rewards.

Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

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Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

NFL's most "badass" team.

The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

MORE PATRIOTS

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

"They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

"Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

"For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

"Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

Here are the full rankings: 

MOST BADASS TEAM 

1. Patriots (29 votes)

2. Seahawks (27)

3. Steelers (18)

4. Raiders (9)

5. Ravens (8)

6t. Broncos (6)

6t. Cowboys (6)

8. Bengals (4)

9t. Cardinals (2)

9t. Packers (2)

9t. Panthers (2)

9t. Texans (2)

Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

MOST BADASS PLAYER

1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)