It’s no secret that Tom Brady will be suspended at least for the season opener vs the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will be considered the favorite and rightly so. The fans, though, would be wise not to consider this game to be a easy reason for several reasons. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is inexperienced, but there are positive things going for him. This means the Steelers must not drop their standards.
During the 2008-2009 season, Brady went down for the season with a torn ACL. The Patriots turned to Matt Cassel who hadn’t started a game since high school and won ten games with him at the helm. It is common sense to know that Garoppolo learned a thing or two under Brady that most quarterbacks don’t know. However, the Steelers will have four months to plan for Garoppolo.
Anyone who knows the Steelers knows that Pittsburgh will send at least five rushers at Garoppolo on at least 30 percent of the snaps. LeGarrette Blount will also be suspended (as well as Steelers rusher Le’Veon Bell) so the running game will be key in terms of efficiency, not necessarily in carries.
Garoppolo, in limited action, showed a quick release which he will have to improve on as he deals with the many blitz schemes that defensive coordinator Keith Bulter will throw at him.
Dick LeBeau had great sucess against first and second year quarterbacks. Hopefully that rubs off on Bulter as his understudy for so many years.
Garoppolo will also struggle because he does not have a dominating number one target at wide receiver. With that being said, tight end Rob Gronkowski will be double-teamed and force Garoppolo to find other targets in his third and fourth reads.
If the Steelers offense can score early and quickly it will force the Patriots to be one dimensional and force Garoppolo throw 30-40 passses – and it’s highly unlikely that he would be ready to handle that.
The Steelers will not take the Patriots lightly, but you can’t help but see the Steelers as a heavy favorite in this game at this point.
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