“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on integrity of the game, the league announced Tuesday.”
With those 27 words, the NFL stood their ground on Tuesday and upheld the 4 game suspension for Tom Brady. Now, we can get into the “is it a fair suspension/is it an overreaction” at a later date, but for the NFL to actually suspend a reigning Super Bowl MVP and arguably its greatest player speaks to how guilty the NFL and Roger Goodell actually believe Brady is.
As of right now, Brady is slated to miss the first four games of the season. The games he will miss are against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, and Dallas Cowboys, three division champions and a Jaguars team that added Broncos Pro Bowl Tight End Julius Thomas in the off-season. If Jimmy Garrapollo, he of the 27 career passes in garbage time, is asked to fill in the Patriots might need Brady to run the table in order to have a legitimate shot to defend their Super Bowl title. The Patriots didn’t have a very good offseason as is; they lost Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, and Brandon Browner in free agency, their starting right guard retired, and they didn’t sign or draft one offensive player.
Tom Brady covered up ALOT of their deficiencies, so it’s a stretch to assume that Garrapolo is going to be able to do the same. Patriot fans may feel Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan should be able to hold down the fort in the secondary. Logan Ryan played well as a slot corner, and he flashed at times as the outside corner opposite Revis, but ask Jet fans how often Kyle Wilson looked respectable next to Revis. It is not a good problem to have, and the Patriots on paper have gotten worse while every team in the AFC East has gotten better. The Patriots have always had the great equalizer in Tom Brady and as of this article they do not. The Patriots may go 1-3 with Garrapolo as their starting quarterback. With Brady theoretically removed from the equation, at least until if a federal judge reverses Goodell’s suspension, what does this mean for the league? More importantly, what does it mean for the Jets?
For the league, it means that Roger Goodell earns a bit of a reprive from people who felt he was too cozy with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Seahawks All-Pro Cornerback Richard Sherman said as much in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The fine and loss of draft pick that Goodell levied, coupled with the suspension of the best player on the team, should exonrate him in the court of public opinion. Even if a federal judge like Judge Doty, who is squarely pro-union, overturns Brady’s suspension the NFL is able to say that they suspended him and that due to the collectively bargained agreement the appeal went to a neutral arbitrator. However, if the suspension is upheld it makes Goodell and the league appear stronger because they won’t just sit idly by and let teams and players gain an unfair advantage.
It’s how they’ve dealt with performance enhancing drugs, and Goodell likened a suspension for PEDs to the advantage Brady got by playing with an under-inflated ball and therefore his actions warranted as much. It was a bold stance to take, and one that will help Goodell gain support from the players who have believed that the Patriots, and namely Brady, have always cheated. The Patriots cheated again, and this time Goodell brought the hammer down.
For the Jets, this suspension gives them (along with the Bills and Dolphins) a legitimate chance to open up some kind of early season lead on the Patriots. The Jets open with the Browns, followed by the Eagles, Colts, and Dolphins before heading into their bye. The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills all improved their rosters. The Dolphins are the only one of the three with a legitimate quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, but they also have the worst coach of the three in Joe Philbin.
The Bills and Jets boast talented defenses, and better wide receivers than the Dolphins. The Bills have the advantage at running back. The point being that, if the suspension is upheld, on Week 1 the Jets (along with the Dolphins and potentially the Bills) get to say that they have a better quarterback than the Patriots for the first time since Mo Lewis changed the course of history. The Jets have the best defense in the division and the best wide receivers. If Geno Smith is competent, the Jets will be 3-1 heading into their bye. At 3-1 and if the Patriots are at 1-3, the Jets will have a two game lead on the Patriots by the time Brady returns to the lineup. The Jets could have a three game lead headed into their first matchup if the Jets handle business against Washington after the bye and the Colts are able to beat a revenge-minded Brady in his very first game back.
This suspension gives the Jets a chance to truly compete to end the Patriots stranglehold on the AFC East. On paper, you could argue before this that the Jets were better at WR, RB, OL, DL, and CB with the Patriots having the edge at TE, LB, S, and QB. As good as McCourty, Gronkowski, Collins, and Jones are, they’re not Brady. Taking him off this team spells trouble no matter what kind of four-leaf clover they’ve been playing with lately. This suspension gives the Jets a shot.