Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, are arguably the greatest duo in NFL history. 18 winning seasons, 16 AFC East titles, 12 AFC Championship games, 9 Superbowl appearances and 6 rings. That’s a pretty special record over a 20 year span.
Throw in multiple MVPs for Brady and multiple coach of the year Awards for ‘The Hoodie’ and its hard to argue there is any better pairing. Even though Tom has left Foxboro for the Bucs, I don’t think the story between the two of them is over. The question now is, who was more important to the ‘Dynasty’, Coach or Quarterback? And more importantly, who will win the break-up?
Whichever way you slice it, Tom Brady is an elite QB, most argue the GOAT. He has 3 MVPs and 6 Superbowl rings under his belt. Put that with the most passing touchdowns (614), most passing yards (85,959) and most game winning drives (58) in NFL history when you include the postseason. Not to mention maybe the greatest Superbowl comeback of all time.
It’s hard to dispute the GOAT talk. The guy is special and has a real case that he was the main reason for the success in New England. Despite this great level of achievement, it is clear he has a chip on his shoulder. He has never been the highest paid QB in the league. He had to go to Pats’ owner, Robert Kraft to get his predecessor Jimmy GQ shipped to the west coast whilst reportedly on the chopping block himself. And he subtly mentioned multiple times in ‘Tom vs Time’ he felt disrespected and undervalued.
A surprising move
His move to the Tampa Bay Bucs was a big shock to almost everyone. Small market Tampa is not where many of us saw the most famous athlete in America ending up. But it makes a lot of sense offensively for Tom and puts him in a good position to win and win now. With the addition of Gronk (which I still can’t believe) the tight end group is elite. His two main receivers, Evans and Godwin, are both arguably within the top 25 receivers in the league. Couple those weapons with an explosive Bruce Arians’ led offence (that produced 30 TDs and 5109 with Jameis Winston) and the stars seemed to have aligned for Brady. If the defence can be at least competent, they should be able to out score most teams and have the potential for a playoff run in a loaded NFC.
Having been in the same system and environment for 20 years, adapting to new surroundings and a new playbook could be something that holds Brady back during his first season away from New England. A player of his calibre should transition quickly but there is a possibility he could struggle early to connect with those weapons. If he can overcome that and go on to win a ring with a second team or hell, even make the Superbowl, he would secure his position as the GOAT and give him the bragging rights over his former coach.
On this site he already topped a poll of the greatest players of this century. He has little left to prove. But you can bet he will be motivated to show he can thrive without Belichick on the sideline.
Belichick is widely considered as one of the greatest coaches ever. A win percentage of 70% and 8 Superbowl rings if you include the ones he won as a DC and it’s hard to argue with that. It wasn’t always so successful for Bill though. His time in Cleveland didn’t go down well. One winning season in 5 years and a 36-44 overall record. Alongside a disconnect with fans, players and media which showed that the jump to head coach is tough. His start to life in New England wasn’t much better. He went 5-11 his first season with Drew Bledsoe and missed the playoffs. The next season, however, saw a huge turn around.
The team, with the addition of TB12, went 11-5 and made their way to Superbowl 36 and won it, which kickstarted two decades of dominance. There’s no denying that Bill’s record from there was outstanding, (he even went 11-5 with Matt Cassel in 2008, even if they did miss the playoffs) and he deserves his praise as the greatest coach of all time.
What if he stumbles through the next couple of seasons with Stidham and misses the playoffs in a strengthening AFC east? Then there will the potential for his reputation to take a hit and the praise be shifted on to Brady.
Familiarity is one of the key components Belichick now has over Brady. He knows the roster, the conference, the coaches and the surroundings inside out. Reports during the offseason seem to suggest both he and OC Josh Mcdaniels are pretty confident in second year signal caller Jarrett Stidham as the starter. He is pretty raw though, having only attempted 4 passes last season (1 of which was an INT). Belichick has got a precedent for turning low round draft picks into GOATs, so let’s just wait and see how he pans out.
Bill Belichick: Not only a great coach
Belichick is also a mastermind GM. He can engineer trades like no one else and has the ability to just create draft picks out of nowhere. Recently, the New England drafts have borne a great amount of fruit for the franchise. Furthermore, he has an unmatched knack for spotting talent where few others can see it. He is also able to revive careers of seemingly ‘past it’ players. Randy Moss springs to mind. Which is always a bonus when a strong Free Agent market comes along.
The only real negative with Belichick is his tough, unwelcoming demeanour. Rookies, especially in skill positions, seem to take a while to flourish under Belichick. And multiple players have expressed how tough it is up there. If the winning starts to fall off, there is a real possibility players won’t take that type of environment for long and Free Agents may not be drawn there as much as in the past. Especially with young coaches like Sean Mcvay and Kliff Kingsbury changing the way coaches and players interact.
Securing a 10th Superbowl appearance without TB12 would surely increase the legend. We can already write Bill in the history books as one of the best coaches to ever grace the game. That final success would be all the sweeter because it would reinforce his case as the greatest. As well as offering a sweet personal victory over his former QB1.
Who has the edge for you?
I would give the early edge to Brady. He seems better set up for a quick victory in Tampa. His career clock is ticking, so he is hungry to prove his worth.
It’s will be fascinating watching these guys try and pretend they aren’t watching the other like a hawk. Especially when they are being hounded by the media every week.
Although highly unlikely, it would be the perfect ending to see them match up in a Superbowl to finish off what has been a fascinating story so far.
Banner image Belichick & Brady from bostonglobe.com