I know the idea of a quarterback controversy in New England is a little silly. It's actually a lot silly.
But I also know this: The closer the Patriots can come to one, the better off they'll be.
A QB controversy will mean Jimmy Garoppolo has played well. It will mean the Pats have won games. It will mean Tom Brady and his supporters consider Garoppolo a threat -- which would only happen if Garoppolo looks the part. And, make no mistake, Garoppolo looking the part does nothing but good things for the Patriots, whether it be setting up a future trade of the third-year backup or holding him as a long-range, post-Brady succession plan.
Of course, any such controversy won't exist inside the walls of Gillette Stadium. In the short term, there is no circumstance under which the Pats would consider Garoppolo a better option than Brady. Such discussions will remain out here, among fans and media. Which is fine. All the same criteria as mentioned above will apply. Garoppolo has to play well for anyone to mention it, internally or externally.
The alternative would be bad news for the Pats. No debate means Garoppolo will have stunk. And there goes your first-round pick; there goes your succession plan.
As for Brady and his understudy, I'm not looking for any kind, nurturing relationship. In fact, I kind of hope they hate each other by the end of this. Brett Favre always got along great with his numerous backups, until Aaron Rodgers came along. Then it turned icy, and for good reason. Rodgers was the first one good enough to push him out the door. It's hard to be friends with someone out for your job. It's almost impossible with someone who is also qualified to take it. Garoppolo should be out for Brady's spot, whether he has a legitimate shot at it or not. That has to be his mentality.
It's hard to know whether Garoppolo has adopted that mindset or not. If I had to venture a guess from 1,000,000 miles away, I would say Garappollo could use a little more assertiveness. A little more confidence. It's a tough position, given Brady's status on the team and in the sport, but if I were Garoppolo I'd try and forget all that. It's your team now, and Brady isn't going to do you any favors, just like Drew Bledsoe didn't do him any 16 years ago. I hope Garoppolo treats Brady as the competition, not as some mentor or friend, because he's certainly not that.
And if Garoppolo parlays that attitude by actually playing well, and that ruffles the feathers of Brady or anyone else in New England, tough. Screw it. If that leads to silly calls on the radio calling for Brady to take a seat, then good for us on talk radio. But it will be even better for the team. Because it will mean Garoppolo was good enough for you to pick up the phone.
Email Felger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.