Ending up with Jimmy Garoppolo instead of Derek Carr would be a failure for New York Jets
As I peruse the internet reading news about the New York Jets‘ quarterback situation, I keep seeing statements like, “the Jets are expected to pursue a big-time veteran quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, or Jimmy Garoppolo.”
There is no reason for Garoppolo to be mentioned in that sentence.
Rodgers and Carr are the Jets’ first-tier options. That’s it. If the Jets do not acquire one of these two quarterbacks, they will move on to their second tier of options, which is a massive step behind the first tier. Garoppolo belongs in that second tier.
No explanation is required as to why Rodgers is a more appealing option than Garoppolo. Carr is the player we’re comparing Garoppolo against.
Many people seem to think Carr and Garoppolo are interchangeable for the Jets while Rodgers is the clear No. 1 option, but I beg to differ. I see Rodgers and Carr as fairly even options in the first tier while Garoppolo is many miles behind them as the leader of the second tier.
Settling for Garoppolo after missing out on both Rodgers and Carr would be a tremendously disappointing outcome for the Jets, in my opinion.
Here are a few reasons Garoppolo is nowhere near as appealing an option to be the Jets’ quarterback as Carr.
Since becoming the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2018, Garoppolo has played in just 57 out of 90 possible regular season and playoff games. That’s 63% of possible games, which would be slightly under 11 games in a 17-game season.
Carr has not missed a game due to injury since 2017. Prior to his benching near the end of the 2022 season, Carr had played in 142 out of 145 possible regular season and playoff games in his career: 98%.
Carr has never played fewer than 15 games in his career. Garoppolo has played under 15 games in three of his five seasons as a starter.
Garoppolo is a beneficiary of an extremely favorable environment in San Francisco
Some of Garoppolo’s stats are appealing at first glance.
Don’t be fooled. His stats are a complete lie.
When projecting Garoppolo to any other team besides the 49ers, it’s important to understand that his numbers will very likely take a steep nosedive from where they were in San Francisco.
Over the past few years, the 49ers have pumped up their quarterback’s stats like no other team in the NFL. San Francisco is loaded with non-quarterback talent on offense and uses a scheme that is extremely quarterback-friendly, generating incredible amounts of yardage off screens and YAC. They are the best team in the league at making their quarterback look better than he really is.
This is exemplified by the fact that San Francisco has easily replicated Garoppolo’s production with other quarterbacks. Since 2019, Garoppolo’s numbers are not much better than the other four quarterbacks who have started for the 49ers.
Here are the regular season stats from 2019-22 accumulated by Garoppolo (1,365 passes) versus the combination of Nick Mullens (326 passes), Brock Purdy (170 passes), C.J. Beathard (104 passes), and Trey Lance (102 passes):
- Garoppolo: 70 TD, 34 INT, 2.1:1 TD/INT, 68% completions, 8.3 Y/A, 100.2 passer rating
- Others: 36 TD, 19 INT, 1.9:1 TD/INT, 64% completions, 7.7 Y/A, 93.0 passer rating
The 49ers have thrown in four different young quarterbacks (three of whom were later-round picks or undrafted) and seen little drop-off from Garoppolo’s production. Garoppolo simply does not add much value above replacement-level.
A 7.2-point passer rating boost over four backups is staggeringly low for a starting quarterback. If the 49ers’ floor weren’t so high, it would be more obvious that Garoppolo provides very little value.
Let’s project Garoppolo’s 7.2-point passer rating boost to a team whose backups do not have a shockingly good 93.0 passer rating (a credit to the 49ers’ offensive stability around the QB). Look at the Jets, for example, whose two backups (Joe Flacco and Mike White) combined for a 75.4 passer rating in 2022. If Garoppolo’s passer rating were 7.2 points better than 75.4, he’d be at 82.6. That would have placed him 29th among qualified quarterbacks in 2022, just barely ahead of Carson Wentz.
No season better exemplified Garoppolo’s lack of actual team-raising value than the 2022 campaign. After Garoppolo got hurt (again), the 49ers inserted Brock Purdy – a rookie quarterback who was the last pick of the draft – and he led the team to a 5-0 finish while outplaying Garoppolo. Purdy exceeded Garoppolo’s passer rating (107.3 to 103.0) and led the 49ers to 9.1 more points per game (33.6 to 24.5).
Shanahan is a master at manufacturing statistical production for his quarterbacks. In 2022, for example, Garoppolo led all qualified quarterbacks in yards after catch per completion (7.0) and was 30th out of 33 qualifiers in air yards per completion (4.8). This is how Garoppolo gets his gaudy box-score stats, such as his 103.0 passer rating in the 2022 season. He’s a beneficiary, not a creator.
Garoppolo has made his name by profiting off great play-calls and talented playmakers, doing little more than throwing screens, checkdowns, and wide-open underneath passes. When Garoppolo throws a screen to Deebo Samuel and Samuel takes it 80 yards to the house, Garoppolo gets all the credit for doing nothing.
When Garoppolo has to actually make something happen on his own, he stinks.
Here are Garoppolo’s numbers on “tight-window” throws (less than one yard of separation between target and defender) in 2022, and their ranks among 33 qualified quarterbacks:
- Passer rating: 8.6 (33rd)
- EPA per attempt: -0.66 (33rd)
- Completion percentage: 20.9% (33rd)
- Overall numbers: 9/43 for 128 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT
Once Garoppolo goes to another team that cannot hand everything to him on a silver platter as the 49ers did, his true self is going to be exposed.
Carr is not a beneficiary like Garoppolo is
Carr has not gotten the silver spoon Garoppolo has. He has played under six head coaches and five offensive coordinators in comparison to Garppolo’s one head coach (who doubles as the leader of the offense).
In terms of non-quarterback offensive talent, the Raiders have been decent, but they never put everything together at once in the way the 49ers have put it together recently. Carr had a great offensive line early in his career, but the playmakers were not there yet. The Raiders have finally gotten some playmakers over the past few years, but now the offensive line is a liability.
Carr is also forced to compensate for a terrible defense on a yearly basis while Garoppolo doesn’t have to score many points to win with a defense that is consistently elite.
Despite all of it, Carr consistently performs at an above-average level. He lifts the Raiders up. It’s easy to imagine the Raiders being a consistent 3-to-4 win team if they had a replacement-level quarterback instead of Carr. With him, though, they have flirted with being an average team, even making a couple of playoff trips. Put Carr on a team with a higher floor (such as a Jets team that won 7 games with league-worst QB play) and he could pull them up to title contention.
This is the opposite of Garoppolo, who has not done anything to make an elite team better. The 49ers are great with him and they are great without him. They don’t miss him much when he isn’t out there.
Switch Garoppolo and Carr’s positions over the past few years. If Garoppolo were the Raiders’ quarterback throughout Carr’s career, I can see the Raiders being that 3-to-4 win team I talked about. Garoppolo does not have the arm talent to make the team-lifting plays Carr has been required to make so he can win the shootouts that are caused by the Raiders’ poor defenses.
If Carr were the 49ers’ quarterback throughout Garoppolo’s tenure there, I think the 49ers would have won at least one Super Bowl. Carr can make the team-lifting plays Garoppolo could not make in the 2019 and 2021 playoffs.
Despite being a game manager who plays in arguably the most quarterback-friendly offense in football, Garoppolo has still been turnover-prone. Garoppolo has a career interception rate of 2.4%, which ranks 10th-worst out of 35 active quarterbacks. For reference, that’s above the 2022 NFL average of 2.3%.
If he is throwing interceptions at a worse-than-average rate in an offense that is usually not asking him to do much, just imagine how many picks he will throw as a Jet.
Carr’s career interception rate is a solid 2.0%, ranking 11th-best out of the same 35 qualifiers.
Jimmy Garoppolo does not have team-raising talent
The difference between Garoppolo and Carr lies in the details. Give one look at each of their box-score lines and you can hardly spot the difference. In fact, you’d probably give the edge to Garoppolo considering he has more wins.
But when you consider the supporting casts of each quarterback, it’s clear that Carr is the man who has a much better chance of being the type of player who can lift his new team up. Carr has consistently performed at an above-average level throughout his career despite playing for a dysfunctional Raiders franchise. Garoppolo was just along for the ride with an amazing team, benefiting from the success of others but falling short when the 49ers needed to be lifted by quality play from the quarterback.
These things can be proven by the numbers but are also easily visible when watching both quarterbacks play. Carr flashes special arm talent on a routine basis and also has some underrated pocket mobility in his game. You can see his tools and think, “I can build an offense around those.” Garoppolo is a statue with limited physical ability. There’s hardly anything he does that stands out. How do you build an offense for Garoppolo without the 49ers’ elite talent? It’s tough.
Considering where they came from and how they arrived at their career stats, Carr projects much better to a new situation than Garoppolo. Carr’s production will either get better or stay the same with his new team. Garoppolo’s production will probably get substantially worse.
Then there’s the injury factor. That alone should end this discussion, but when you throw everything else in, it’s a no-brainer: Derek Carr is a much more appealing quarterback target for the Jets than Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s not even much of a discussion.
I disagree with this. Jimmy is the 3 but a very fine #3. His INT rate was 1.3% this past season, he’s better at ball security.
This is one of the most inaccurate articles i’ve read. You compare Jimmy’s stats to his backup quarterbacks COMBINED statistics in order to make your point valid but if you break them down and compare Jimmy against all the backup QBs individually, the outcome will be very different. The difference between Jimmy vs Nick Mullens/CJ Beathard was night and day. The only reason that the numbers for backup QB performance are even remotely close to Jimmy’s numbers is because Brock Purdy’s stats are included. Just because the Niner’s had a backup QB on their roster that was good enough to be a starter on many teams, does not make Jimmy a worse QB.
As for the injuries, you can’t argue with
that. I agree his injury situation is far from ideal but that doesn’t
necessarily mean it will continue.
You also make it seem like the Niners roster
has been stacked from the beginning of Jimmy’s time with the Niners but that is
far from true. If you recall, the Niners team was horrendous when Jimmy first
came in and he went 5-0 with an awful roster around him. Up until this past
season, they didn’t have any better of a roster offensively than any other team
in the NFC West.
Lastly – you along with majority of people,
are way off on your opinion of Kyle Shannahan being such an incredible coach.
Go back and watch the super bowl game against the Chiefs and tell me that Kyle
Shannahan isn’t responsible for that loss…. there is no way you will be able
to do that if you have any real football knowledge whatsoever. And that game is
not the only one. But for whatever reason, the media puts blame for everything
that goes wrong on Jimmy and they give the credit for everything good to Kyle.
And because of that, people don’t do their own research and just automatically
believe that Kyle Shannahan is some offensive genius. I’m not going to sit here
and act like Kyle is a terrible coach but its also not fair to say the opposite
To sum it up – Yes, Aaron Rodgers is a big
step up from Carr and Jimmy. But to say that Jimmy is a big dropoff from Carr
is just not accurate at all and I hope people will take the time to realize
that as opposed to just reading this article and believing these unfair stats
that you came up with.
You know where I stand, clearly prefer Carr, I don’t think that’s happening. The one thing I will say is you wrote the Niners are “loaded with non-quarterback talent.” I’ve been reading in lots of places, including on this site the Jets are “a QB away.” Well, they can’t be a QB away and not have non-QB talent. It can’t be both, they either have the talent to make them a QB away or we are fooling ourselves. Personally, I think they are more than a QB away, however I think they can add what they need to make them a QB away this off-season which helps whoever is under center next season.
If the consensus is that Jets would have made the playoffs or more, with “decent” QB play then I don’t see how Jimmy doesn’t help. I understand you are saying he’s not Carr, I agree but I don’t see how it’s a tremendously disappointing outcome for the Jets, if they get Jimmy, considering he’d provide “decent” QB play.
You always support your statements with great analytical backing so it’s hard to argue otherwise here. As others concluded, its a depressing analysis since I for one believed JG to be a solid option to fill the role. I still think he is personally but maybe the gap between him and Carr is wider than initially thought. I do however think he is the most realistic option and if and when Carr and Rodgers end up elsewhere, we end up praying that JG is who we end up with. Take that for what its worth. Great article as always.
Michael, great perspective that most of us regular fans wouldn’t notice.
I saw the one td drive of Supe 3 and now I better know why Joe was mvp despite 16 points.
Back to now..imo it’s Carr or stay with Mike White. Have Wilson be QB2 but also dress Schreveler.
Hopefully Hackett has more of an imagination than Lefleur.
One of White’s biggest downside is his size. We had issues at the goal line and going for 4th and short.
Having Streveler active to use in those situations would make a huge difference.
The short time we saw Schreveler at years end, he was faaarrr from throwing a Dan Marino spiral but he can run over just about any defender on the field.
Rather than clog the cap, and lose picks with Rodgers, if we don’t get Carr, don’t get over anxious and see what this year brings.
The more I read the more I am in the get Derek Carr camp. Rodgers $110 million over 2 years scares the hell out of me quite a bit. I hate the idea of sacrificing the teams future for a 2 year bump. This analysis on Jimmy G. is almost as scary as Rodgers contract. Carr would be a great bridge to the next QB or he could turning into a 5+ year option at QB. That being said I am not certain of much except that I do not want Zach back as a starting QB of the QB of the future. Regardless of who we sign at QB I would love to see Mike White back as a back-up if we can get him on affordable deal.
Depressing but solid analysis. The odds of a successful offseason just got cut in half.
I can see why some folks want to trade for Carr. I still think I would let the Raiders cut him unless we can get him for a 4th round pick or less. We still need OL line replacements, Safety replacements, and probably a new back up RB. If any team needed extra draft picks it be us.
No question. Go get Carr, JD!