Stoic. Suave. Stylish. Pick your own superlative. Those are just a few labels Jimmy Garoppolo hears when his name comes up. The veteran quarterback is living up to the billing at Raiders training camp. His play is as advertised to this point.
Jimmy Garoppolo is as advertised at Raiders training camp
Vegas opened training camp last week and welcomed the veteran passer with open arms. Teammates have spoken highly of Garoppolo’s calm demeanor and easy-going attitude. He carries a certain gravitas. One that comes with a track record of winning anywhere he goes.
Granted, Garoppolo’s early career success came while riding the coattails of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. And Josh McDaniels, to a lesser extent. When the young quarterback needed a new contract, Brady still wasn’t ready to give him the keys to the house. Instead, Belichick did what Belichick does best by recouping a second-round pick for the ascending talent.
The 49ers were the recipients of the trade, but thanks to a devastating season-ending injury in 2018, they would have to wait nearly two years before reaping the benefits. In his first campaign as a full-time starter, Garoppolo helped pioneer San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance.
He even held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. But alas, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs stormed back. The Niners never quite returned to those heights, although they would appear in two more NFC Championship Games during Garoppolo’s reign.
This offseason saw a breakup between the polarizing signal-caller and the franchise that made him a household name. With San Francisco pivoting to Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold, Jimmy G was finally free to decide his future. And when March rolled around, he sought out a couple of familiar faces.
Garoppolo reunites with former friends in Vegas
General manager Dave Ziegler released long-time Raiders’ starter Derek Carr a few days after the Super Bowl ended. This departure paved the way for Garoppolo, as he signed a three-year, $72.75 million deal, cementing himself as the team’s QB1 entering 2023. Or so we thought.
Things got off on the wrong foot to begin Jimmy G’s tenure in Vegas, pun intended. When Garoppolo originally signed back in March, he hit a roadblock after the Raiders staff performed a physical on the 31-year-old. It even delayed his introductory press conference.
Alas, the worry and concern from the fan base proved to be overblown. Garoppolo eventually passed the physical, ending all the speculation about the team’s starting quarterback position. And training camp has only solidified the trust the coaching staff has placed in the tenth-year veteran.
While he is still finding his deep ball, Jimmy G has looked the part in every other facet. His professionalism, natural leadership quality, and experience with two of the most storied franchises in the NFL bring immediate credibility to this incarnation of the Raiders.
Garoppolo has been precise and accurate while always taking accountability when he falls short on a snap. His teammates have rallied around this mentality, and the staff hopes the young talent on the roster mirrors it as they develop. Regardless of how you feel about the quarterback swap in Vegas, it is hard to deny how much the locker room loves Jimmy G.
Will past success follow Jimmy G to Sin City?
In 57 total starts with San Fran, Garoppolo posted a 40-17 record. Of course, context matters. The supporting cast for the Niners is a night and day difference in most areas. The Raiders have a few top-tier players and a collection of good-not-great talent around them. Can Garoppolo elevate this unit in a similar fashion?
That will be the question the NFL world ponders until the regular season starts. Based on early reports, it sounds like McDaniels and Ziegler got exactly what they wanted. If it is enough, as it pertains to making the playoffs, remains to be seen.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images