First stringer Tom Brady is A)suspended and B)sunbathing naked
Second stringer Jimmy Garoppolo has an injured shoulder and may not be able to play
Third stringer Jacoby Brissett has an injured thumb and may not be able to play
Which, in case you hadn't noticed, is all of the quarterbacks, potentially leaving the Patriots with none.
That being said, Bill Belichick remains the sneakiest devil in football this side of Jeff Fisher's agent, so I'm pretty sure there won't be a gaping void under center on Sunday. The smart money says that if neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can go, then it'll be wide receiver Julian Edelman, who played quarterback in college, taking the snaps. Of course, Belichick may also decide he doesn't want to risk his best offensive weapon (sorry, Gronk, staying on the field counts for something), which means that he might be looking at another out of the box option. Here's a few possibilities, ranked in order of probability:
- Bring back some combination of Matt Cassel/Matt Flynn/Ryan Mallett/Brian Hoyer. Yes, I know some of them are on other teams. It doesn't matter. This is Belichick. He can just bring one of them in, plug them in because they know the playbook, and win the game. Afterwards, he'll parlay three decent quarters of performance into a second rounder and a sixth rounder from, say, Cleveland, and then ship Matt/Matt/Ryan/Brian right back out again.
- Announce the signing of a new quarterback, "Bom Trady", who looks absolutely nothing like Tom Brady and has a stunning all-over tan. After the game, Trady will be cut and mysteriously vanish, as Brady walks into the locker room.
- Trade for Sam Bradford. Because all the cool kids are doing it, and it seems to have worked out so far.
- Trade for Mark Sanchez. Because Dak Prescott is apparently the greatest thing ever and Dallas has no need for a backup quarterback, and because it would really grind Rex Ryan's gears to get beaten by a team quarterbacked by The Sanchize. (Anyone remember when Colin Cowherd was all aboard the Sanchez train as the next great QB? Me neither.)
- Bring in T.J. Yates. Because really, what bigger statement of disdain for an opponent can you make than beating them with a barely prepared T.J. Yates.
- Call Steve Grogan out of retirement. Sure, the playbook's changed a little, but how hard could it be for him to get back in the groove?
- Claim that all the QB injuries are Roger Goodell's fault as part of his anti-Patriots Deflategate crusade, thus whipping the WEEI listener base into a frenzy to the point where they'll storm the field, getting the game postponed until Brady's suspension is over.
- Make yet another deal with Satan. Because at this point, what's one more?