Yeah, we know New England Patriots stud QB Tom Brady has been suspended four games, but what does it mean for the New York Jets?
By Matt Barbato
You thought Deflategate had gone away, didn’t you?
One of the wackiest scandals in NFL history has risen, or re-inflated from the dead. A U.S. Appeals Court sided with the NFL and overturned a lower court judge’s original decision. Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has been reinstated and he is expected to miss the first four games of the 2016 season.
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This news may have had New York Jets fans jumping for joy at the beginning of the work week. Unfortunately, the Jets and Patriots won’t meet until Week 12, meaning this suspension won’t have a direct effect on Gang Green.
However, those that think the Jets can contend for their first AFC East crown since 2002 may be feeling extremely optimistic on Monday.
None of New England’s first four games are cakewalks. The Patriots start the season with a trip to Arizona to face a Cardinals team that should be among the favorites to win the NFC. The Patriots then return to Foxborough, Mass., for three-consecutive home contests against the division rival Miami Dolphins, defending AFC South champion Houston Texans and a surely motivated Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.
The assumption is third-year pro Jimmy Garoppolo will be the man at the helm for New England for the first quarter of the season. Garoppolo has played in 11 games primarily in mop-up duty and has completed 20-of-31 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo was being groomed last summer to be Brady’s replacement after the original suspension was handed down, so he should be well-prepared to handle the spotlight leading up to the season. The question will be whether Garoppolo can perform when the lights are actually on him.
The schedule won’t do Garoppolo any favors. The Cardinals and Texans both ranked inside the top 10 in pass defense last season and Ryan always seems to bring his best defensive game plans into games against the Patriots.
The best-case scenario without Brady is probably a 3-1 record, but Patriots fans should be happy with a split of the first four contests. That’s because the rest of the AFC East hasn’t markedly improved and a 2-2 record certainly won’t hurt their chances at another division title.
The Jets probably have the best roster of the three, but also don’t have a quarterback as Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to hold out for more money. The Dolphins have undergone a coaching change and lost star defensive end Olivier Vernon to the New York Giants. The Bills have been relatively quiet during free agency and also are in a contract dispute with last year’s starter, Tyrod Taylor.
The Patriots are still the favorites to win the division even without Brady. Unless the rest of the division makes a killing during the NFL Draft, the division will be much of the same in 2016. Plus, the Patriots get their first two divisional games at home, which will be vastly important for the inexperienced Garoppolo.
The Brady suspension opens the door for the Jets to make a run at the division. But the Jets must get their own quarterback situation handled before they can even think about challenging for the throne. Quite frankly, the Jets have their own problems right now and will face a much tougher schedule in 2016.
The Brady re-suspension is important, but it won’t determine who wins the AFC East.