New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Why Friday Night is a Make or Break for Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett

(Photo by: Alex Brandon, Associated Press)

As I’m sure every New England Patriots fan has read and seen the past few days, last Thursday night was a train wreck for what was supposed to be the perfect showcase for backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. Owner Bob Kraft and Head Coach Bill Belichick had the perfect vision in mind; sitting Tom Brady in favor of starting Mallett, who would have an excellent opportunity to come in and dominate against an average Washington Redskins defense. And not just against their backups, against starting-tier talent.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, Mallett fell right on his face. He threw for 55 yards on 12 attempts, where he only completed five. He played the whole first half against the Redskins starters, and looked like a deer in headlights for the majority of his time on the field. Even with the Patriots starters on offense in the game, he was overthrowing passes and making terrible reads play after play.

After Coach Belichick had seen enough following the first half, he sent in rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to help salvage the night in Washington. In a shock to fans watching, he drastically outperformed the three-year veteran. Garoppolo went 9/13 with 157 yards and a beautiful 26-yard touchdown pass to Brian Tyms in the corner of the end zone.

Now fast forward to Friday night, where the Patriots will face another NFC East team in hopes of gaining some more chemistry for the upcoming Regular Season, and to continue slimming down the roster. The Philadelphia Eagles will be coming to town, and this game could be Mallett’s last chance to impress other team’s scouts for a potential trade before the regular season to become a starter in the NFL. Or at the very least, to simply showcase his abilities for the upcoming free-agent market in the spring of 2015.

Fortunately for Mallett, the Eagles defense isn’t all that strong, as they are primarily carried by their high-powered offense featuring LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles. However, if Mallett fails to live up to expectations after three seasons sitting behind the future Hall of Fame quarterback, it could certaintly be his last chance at success in the NFL. After watching Garoppolo play like he did in Washington, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that if he continues his success throughout the rest of the preseason, he could be promoted to the backup position, leaving Mallett at No. 3 on the depth chart.

It’s incredible how fast things can change in the NFL. Just over a month ago, there were rumors that Mallett could be dealt to the Houston Texans to become the starter under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. It was general consensus that Mallett, the 74th overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, would become the successor to Brady when he decided to hang up his cleats. But maybe the Patriots, after three seasons of watching his progression as a player, ultimately felt he wasn’t the long-term answer in New England. If the Draft in May didn’t trigger that thought into your head (as they took Garoppolo in the 2nd round), then last Thursday may have.

Ryan Mallett, you have one more chance to convince ownership, the coaches, and the fans of New England that you can ultimately become a starting quality quarterback scouts across the nation once believed you could. But if Garoppolo outshines you again in front of the hometown fans on Friday Night, it could very well be the end of aspirations of becoming a potential starting signal caller in the NFL.

The ball is in your hands now. You’ve got one last shot.

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