There have been many great debates we’ve had during this COVID-19 time. How many championships could Michael Jordan seriously have if he didn’t retire twice with the Bulls? If Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus played in the same era, who would have more major championships? Which NFL dynasty is the greatest of all-time?
There’s another one among NFL circles that we’ve debated for years and we actually will get to see it play out this season: Could Tom Brady have made it without Bill Belichick, or could Bill Belichick have made it without Tom Brady? In other words, was it the system or the captain?
Most would probably agree that the two go hand-in-hand and that one relied on the other. However, let’s put that opinion aside for now. We get a chance this year to see this thing develop with our own eyes.
One of the major stories of 2020 will be how these two men do without the other. One would have to argue that there is a major advantage for Brady. He is going to a football team that seemingly has all the weapons a quarterback could ever dream of. He gets his favorite weapon Rob Gronkowski back, he has another first-round tight end in O.J. Howard, and has possibly the best 1-2 wide receiver combo in the game with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
This is what Brady lacked a year ago and he’s out to prove that his age wasn’t so much the issue , it was the weapons. And he’s also out to prove he can win with another coach, not just Bill Belichick.
It’s a major time in Brady’s career, even at 43. It’s a bit of a risk. Having a bad year in 2020 could affect his legacy slightly, although most would still believe he is the greatest quarterback of all-time. But he doesn’t want to go out like LaDainian Tomlinson with the Jets, Brett Favre did with the Vikings, or Johnny Unitas with the Chargers. He’d rather go out like John Elway or Peyton Manning, with a Super Bowl ring and leaving on top of the game. Or at least like Joe Montana who left the 49ers but still found success and left with the Chiefs making it to the postseason his last two years.
On the other side is Belichick who is all business and building the team the way he wants to build it. It’s not about one player with Bill; it’s about all 53 of them. He wants to show that it’s his system that has brought New England to prominence, not so much Tom Brady. That system includes building a team with an abundance of draft picks and turning those later round picks into stars.
If Bill Belichick is able to deliver a Super Bowl contending team this season and even win it all with Jarrett Stidham as his starting quarterback, it could be the greatest coaching accomplishment ever, possibly topping his own accomplishments which are already ranked among the best of all-time. This is not a team that offensively will impress you by any stretch of the imagination. There are serious questions at quarterback, they still haven’t found a tight end to fill Gronkowski’s vacancy, there’s some depth issues at wide receiver, and who knows who will be starting at running back.
Belichick continued doing it the Patriots way during the NFL Draft. He made deals with other teams, even giving up Gronkowski, to acquire more draft picks. In total, the Patriots ended up with 14 new players from the draft. That’s just the way Belichick likes to build his teams. You certainly won’t hear him complain.
Belichick and the Patriots have the easier path to get to the postseason. The AFC East still is the Patriots to lose, even without Brady. The Dolphins and Jets are likely going to be playing for the basement again while Buffalo will be the Patriots biggest obstacle. The NFC has arguably more depth and the Bucs are going to have to try and get through the Saints which is going to be a massive challenge. The NFC also has the 49ers, Seahawks, Vikings, Packers, Eagles, and Cowboys.
The dream signing we all wished for was to see Jameis Winston ink a deal with the Patriots. It would have added even more spice to the story. Instead, Winston signed with the Saints, which could be a fun story to follow down the road once Brees retires. Nevertheless, the “Brady vs. Belichick” story is going to be a fun one to watch this season. Who will get the upper hand? Who will get the last laugh? Will one man walk away with a seventh ring?
The 2020 season just can’t get here fast enough.