The Patriots clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs when the Jaguars fell to the Niners over the weekend. That Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots had a little help from their former teammate Jimmy Garoppolo was not lost on the football-watching world.
Brady was asked about his former understudy -- who has gone 4-0 as a starter in San Francisco and beat arguably the best defense in the NFL in his last outing -- during his weekly interview on WEEI.
"He’s done a great job," Brady said. "You go in there and get the opportunity to play and win games, that is what we are all here for. It was good to see and good for them to beat Jacksonville, that really helped us. I am really happy for Jimmy and he’s worked really hard. It shows up when he goes out there and plays really well."
Garoppolo has played well enough that the Patriots-Niners trade has been re-visted many times in recent weeks and drummed up curiosity as to why the Patriots couldn't receive more in a deal than a second-round pick in exchange for a player who looks like a franchise cornerstone. Some have wondered if the Patriots ever considered dealing Brady in order to keep the younger backup option.
Brady has long acknowledged that many of the best players in the history of professional sports have been traded, and he was asked on Tuesday about that hypothetical.
"We can go through all 31 teams, but I am here with the Patriots and I’ve loved playing for this team and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan, playing for Coach [Bill] Belichick and all the other coaches and all the great players," Brady said. "I think I have had it pretty good. I don’t really think too often about what could have been, or what should have been or what might have been. I know where I am at and we’ve done a pretty good job here and hopefully we can keep it going."
Meanwhile, Garoppolo has one more opportunity to keep his hot streak going with San Francisco. Scheduled to become a free agent after the season, he seems to be making himself more money with every throw. Clearly in 3 1/2 seasons with Brady and the Patriots, he picked up a few things that he could finally put to use now that he's running an NFL huddle of his own.
“It’s really a credit to him," Brady said. "You do what you can with the opportunities you get. I think it is great for any player and anyone who has been in the Patriots system to watch how the coaches prepare the players. There is obviously a high standard and high expectations for us every time we take the field. Anytime you’re in a winning environment, that definitely helps and I think guys really enjoy that. You take what you can and use that in other places if that is where you go. Like I said, what they are doing is a credit to them. I don’t think anyone should take credit for what those guys have accomplished."