Pats shuffle deck at QB

Way back when, before Deflategate became a word, before we all knew way more about the PSI of footballs than we ever wanted to, before NFL poster boy Tom Brady found his way into commissioner Roger Goodell?s doghouse, it would have been inconceivable?laughable even?to think that the Patriots would have a quarterback controversy. Of course surefire future Hall of Famer Tom Brady would be under center when the Patriots open the NFL season against the Steelers on Sept. 10.
But then we had Deflategate and PSIs and Brady camped out with the Goodell dogs. But still, even with all that, we knew Jimmy Garoppolo would be the quarterback for the opening game while Brady served his suspension. Right? Well, we knew it wasn?t going to be Garrett Gilbert anyway.
Well, that was until the Patriots signed Matt Flynn last week. Now, we have if not a quarterback controversy, a quarterback competition.
Garoppolo, a second-round (62nd overall) pick in 2014, appeared in six games last season. He made 27 pass attempts with 19 completions, one for a touchdown.
Flynn, a seventh-round (209th overall) pick by the Packers in 2008, is a veteran of seven seasons and four teams. In 2013 alone he played for Buffalo, Green Bay and Oakland. He has appeared in 53 games, making seven starts. Last year, back with Green Bay, he appeared in seven games, with no starts as the backup for Aaron Rodgers, completing eight of 16 pass attempts, none for TDs.
Those aren?t the kinds of quarterback accolades you expect the defending Super Bowl champions to be putting on the field at the start of the season. But while Brady is watching the games from his couch during his suspension, that is what the Patriots will have ? for now, anyway.
Still, even when Brady is back, the Patriots will need a backup. And by bringing in Flynn, Bill Belichick is signaling that nothing should be taken for granted. Even if he?s not putting it into words.
Earlier this week, after the Patriots finished their first day of mandatory mini-camp (Belichick magnanimously canceled the third of three days, scheduled for Thursday, giving his players a day off), Belichick was asked about the timing of the Flynn signing.
?We thought it was the right time to do it,” Belichick said.
Was that after getting a look at Gilbert?
?There are a lot of factors that go into those kinds of decisions,” Belichick said, divulging none of them.
What does Flynn bring?
?We?ll see. He?s had some playing experience. We?ll see how it goes,” Belichick said.
Can a guy who?s been a backup throughout his career bring in a fresh perspective?
?I don?t know. What he needs to do is learn what we?re doing and try to go out there and execute it well. That?s what his job is,” Belichick said.
Not exactly a resounding endorsement from the coach, but not exactly a surprise.
Flynn said he doesn?t view the situation as a competition.
?I don?t look at it as anything,” he said. “I look at it right now as I?ve got a big task ahead of me and that?s the only think that I?m thinking of right now, and that?s the only thing that they?re telling me to do right now, that?s to learn, learn, learn. Then we?ll get to that.”
As a backup quarterback, can he offer anything to Brady?
?I was a backup for 5 ? years or something like that,” Flynn said. “I know that role well, and I?ve been around the league. I?ve seen a bunch of different offenses. I?ve seen a lot of defenses. So there?s nothing that you can really teach a guy like Tom. But, hopefully, I can bring some kind of wisdom to him if he ever needs to use it.”
Likewise, Garoppolo said he is not looking at it as a competition.
?I think we?re just all coming out here and trying to get better every day, pretty much,” he said.
Perhaps in his favor, though, Garoppolo has a year in the Patriots? system, which Flynn does not.
?Naturally, a year?s going to (make you more comfortable), being in the same environment, same guys around you for the most part, same coaches,” Garoppolo said. “We?

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