By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady’s face may be hovering high above Gillette Stadium, but that’s officially going to be his only involvement with the Patriots for the next four weeks.
Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo is set to make his first career NFL start on Sunday night in Arizona. Though the task of taking on that vaunted Cardinals defense is not easy, the third-year quarterback said Wednesday that the workflow has been efficient now that the regular season has begun.
“Yeah it’s a smoother operation, I’ll say that,” Garoppolo told the media at Gillette Stadium. “It’s just me and Jacoby [Brissett]. All the reps are just between the two of us now, and we kind of know where we sit on that. It’s different without Tom, no question about it, but it is what it is at this point.”
After the Patriots unveiled the Tom Brady tribute over the weekend, it’s inspired some media folks to spends hours upon hours discussing its impact on the psyche of Garoppolo. The quarterback said that he hasn’t even had time to call his parents, let alone worry about a picture of Tom Brady.
“Not really. I mean, to be honest I haven’t even had much time to even think about that,” Garoppolo said. “It’s straight Arizona right now. So that’s where my head’s at, and that’s probably where it will stay.”
Garoppolo did say that he hasn’t spent much time thinking about this four-game stretch as being his big opportunity to establish himself in the league, but after taking a moment to ponder the question, he did divulge a bit about his goals.
“There’s so much going on right now — mentally I’m just straight Arizona. But it is a phenomenal opportunity,” he said. “This is why you play the game. You play the game to be in the game and play. You don’t want to be the backup. So the opportunity is here, I just gotta go take advantage of it.”
Considering he’s filling the shoes of the most important player in franchise history, there’s naturally going to be some questions about how he steps up and serves as a leader of the offense. Garoppolo said it doesn’t really require any extra effort.
“I think that just comes with being a quarterback. Naturally it kind of happens on its own,” he explained. “You want to go in there, let the guys know that you’re here to work and here to do your job the right way.”
As for what type of quarterback he’ll be on the field, he twice used the term “calm, cool and collected.”
“Since I started playing quarterback, you never want to be too high or too low. You always want to be right in the middle,” Garoppolo said. “Your teammates are always looking at you, so if you react in a bad way, they’re going to see that and they’ll react to that.”
Come Sunday night, the eyes of the whole country — not just his teammates — will be fixed squarely on him. We’ll see how well he handles the task of staying calm, cool and collected.