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Finding A Quarterback: Jimmy G. and a Leap of Faith

| January 24th, 2017

The Bears have a chance to acquire their best looking quarterback since Jim Miller.

One of the first moves Ron Wolf made as GM of the Packers was trading a first-round pick for a fat, drunk, third-string hillbilly who was a second round pick the year before. It ended up being a steal.

If Wolf were to make that trade today, the Twitter GMs would’ve been killing him for spending such a premium pick on a player who had never shown he could play. But Wolf was convinced he was trading for a franchise quarterback, even though nobody else seemed to have a high opinion of him. Wolf had Brett Favre rated as the best player on his draft board the year before and he knew he wanted him. The rest is history.

Fast forward 25 years and Ryan Pace is the latest Bears GM to try to fill the team’s quarterback. One of the prime candidates is a backup quarterback who we’ve barely seen in Jimmy Garoppolo. Twitter GMs are saying Pace can’t give up the third pick for Garoppolo, but, like Wolf, it all depends on what he sees in the young quarterback.

There’s reason to believe the Bears will be among the teams going after Garoppolo. Pace was with the Saints when they were considering drafting Garoppolo, according to Sean Payton. The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin recently told Waddle & Silvy that he “knows for a fact” the Cleveland Browns loved Garoppolo, but ownership made them draft Johnny Manziel. The Browns QB coach at the time was…Dowell Loggains.

Three years have passed and Garoppolo is thought to be available again. The only question is: how much do the Bears want him?

Like I have for the other quarterbacks who may be available, I watched and charted both of Garoppolo’s starts this season and he was the most accurate quarterback I’ve seen. The third-year man was inaccurate on just 20.3 percent of his passes and they weren’t all short passes. According to ESPN, Garoppolo completed four-of-seven passes thrown beyond 20 yards for two touchdowns. Although two of his inaccurate passes were misses on deep shots that could’ve been touchdowns.

Beyond the numbers, I saw him step up in the pocket and drop dimes down the field. On what turned out to be their game-winning drive against Arizona, Garoppolo dropped the ball in the lap of Julian Edelman 32 yards down the field on a third-and-15 play. The next week he carved Miami apart before he left the game with an injury.

If you weren’t impressed by Garoppolo’s play in those two games, it’s because you were trying to be unimpressed. But I still have no idea what any of that means. I don’t think I need to regurgitate the list of backup quarterbacks who failed miserably as starters. If Pace makes the move for Garoppolo, it has to be based on more than what he saw in those two games.

One advantage Pace has over the rest of the league is that he got to see Garoppolo up close last summer. By all accounts, Garoppolo was impressive during the joint practices the Bears held with the Patriots. Those are practices Pace surely has on tape, which is more that he can use to evaluate the young quarterback.

In his three NFL seasons, Garoppolo has thrown 317 passes in preseason and regular season games for 2,268 yards, 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. That might all be meaningless, but Pace has to watch every single one of those passes. Then watch every single pass Garoppolo threw in college. If he’s going to give up a lot for Garoppolo, he has to be just as positive as Wolf was when he traded for Favre.

Time will tell what Pace really thinks of Garoppolo, but if he thinks the New England backup is a franchise quarterback, the price shouldn’t matter.

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