Coming off a mightily impressive game on Thursday night, rookie Jacoby Brissett helped lead the Patriots to a blow-out win against the Texans. In the process though, he suffered an injury to his right thumb that WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is reporting to be a torn ligament . If this prognosis is true, Petraglia is also reporting that he now “faces likely surgery for stabilization”. If Brissett needed surgery immediately, it would hard to see him ready for week four on just over a week’s recovery time. But the fact that Brissett stayed in the entire game is a good sign.
There are still conflicting reports as to what Brissett’s injury is, as ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that he was only dealing a sprained thumb and that there wouldn’t need to be surgery. But NFL’s Ian Rapoport said that Brissett would not need surgery as did the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin (who also said that Brissett had suffered a torn ligament). Regardless, it is still relatively unknown as to the extent of Brissett’s injury. The Patriots are now less than a week away from their week four match-up against the Buffalo Bills in Foxboro.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter had tweeted out on Sunday “As one Patriots source described it, there’s a decent chance they’ll have at least one of those quarterbacks available next Sunday, a chance that both will be ready next Sunday, and a much lesser chance that neither quarterback will be ready for next Sunday.” The other quarterback that he is referring to is Jimmy Garoppolo, who Brissett started for when he went down with a shoulder injury in week two. So from this report, it seems that the Patriots are confident that at least Brissett or Garoppolo (if not both) will be available on Sunday. It is possible that Brissett could hold off on surgery (if he needs it) until after week five, when Tom Brady comes back from suspension.
For Garoppolo, he suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder during week two and was inactive in week three. Considering he suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder, he would typically need weeks, not days to recover. But if Schefter’s report is accurate, there is a possibility that the time that Garoppolo has had to heal is enough. It could also mean that Brissett’s thumb injury is not as severe as it sounds either. But regardless, the Patriots have shown that no matter who starts at quarterback, they have a strong chance of winning. A big reason for that is the superb play of LeGarrette Blount so far.
He has 295 yards on 75 carries (25 per game on average) with four touchdowns in three games so far this season. He has been heavily relied on in absence of Tom Brady and has not let the team down. Regardless of who plays at quarterback in week four for the Patriots, expect another heavy dosage of Blount carrying the offense to hopefully a fourth consecutive win.
While it may not be the most popular option for Patriots fans, Schefter also tweeted that if neither Garoppolo or Brissett is ready for week four, that T.J. Yates would be an “ideal candidate” to start in week four for New England. Yates had a private workout with the team last week but was not signed at the time. A five-year veteran, Yates famously led the Texans in 2011 to a play-off victory while having very little game experience prior. He has made stops in Atlanta and then again to Houston in 2015 when they dealt with their own quarterback issues.
The one thing that Yates could bring to the Patriots (even if it is only for one week) is a healthy quarterback. Other options for the Patriots could be Matt Flynn or Ryan Lindley, who both were with the team at different points during the 2015 preseason. They both bring some knowledge of the Patriots playbook and also a healthy arm, even if it is only to hand the ball off to Blount or make the occasional short throw to Rob Gronkowski/Julian Edelman. It wouldn’t be ideal, but the Patriots may not have any choice if neither Brissett nor Garoppolo is healthy enough to play.
Best case scenario for the Patriots is that either Garoppolo’s shoulder is healed enough for him to play and/or Brissett’s thumb injury isn’t as severe as reported. Regardless, this will be a situation to monitor this week as the Patriots once again deal with a quarterback issue while Brady is currently suspended still. Going up against a Bills team in week one that stifled the Cardinals will not be a team to take lightly. So, this situation is even more important on top of it being a division rival.
Keep checking in throughout the week here at ESPN New Hampshire for updates on the Patriots and their quarterback situation for week four!