The Super Bowl has come and gone, which means that the 2020 NFL Season has officially come to a close. Once again the season ends by seeing Tom Brady hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in his career, and the first in which he was not a member of the New England Patriots.
When Brady left the Patriots via free agency to the Buccaneers last March, questions began to rise on whether Brady was going to succeed or not without Bill Belichick as his head coach. In the past, Belichick proved that he could win games without Brady as the Patriots went 10-5 in 2008 when Brady went down with a torn ACL, however, they missed the playoffs (Brady was credited as the winning QB has he started the first game). In 2016 when Brady was suspended the first four games for his role in the deflategate scandal, between Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, the Pats went 3-1 prior to Brady's return. Key word there is prior. Brady returned in 2009 and came back in Week 5 of 2016. Before that though, in Belichick's first season with the Patriots in 2000, Bill had Drew Bledsoe and the Pats went just 5-11. Then two games into 2001, Bledsoe went down and the Pats were forced to turn to Brady. The Pats started that season 0-2. At this time, Belichick was 5-13 as head coach of the New England Patriots without Tom Brady as the starter.
When Brady took over, so did the Patriots. Including postseason, Bill Belichick with Tom Brady went 249-75 as a head coach that included six Super Bowl wins in nine appearances. A 20-year run of pure dominance. Without Brady as his starting Quarterback with the Patriots, Belichick is 25-28 with other quarterbacks not named Brady. It's not a terrible record, but it also shows the discrepancies on offense that the team had, and was just shown more this past season. As a head coach without Brady, Belichick is 61-72 which comes out to a .458 win percentage.
With Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, he becomes just the second Quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl with two different franchises. The only other man to do that was Peyton Manning when he won the Super Bowl with the Colts in 2006 and the again with the Broncos in 2015. Brady also now has more championships than all of the 32 NFL franchises. The Pats and Steelers each have six, the Cowboys and 49ers each have five, the Packers and Giants have four, a hand full of teams have two, including the Bucs victory this past Sunday, handful of teams with one title and others that have yet to either win the Lombardi or make it to the Super Bowl.
Was it the right decision for Belichick to let Brady virtually walk? Clearly not from what we saw this season, between Jarrett Stidham clearly still not ready for the NFL and not sure if he ever will be, Brian Hoyer proving that he's just a career back-up due to his ineffectiveness and extremely poor clock management. To put the cherry on top of it all, Cam Newton was lucky if he could throw a football 10 yards without it either being batted down or intercepted.
It goes to show that Belichick's thinking of "less is more" has now officially slipped through the cracks as in today's NFL, you need more in order to get somewhere to win. Tampa Bay was getting production out of Jameis Winston, however he kept turning the ball over. Yes he threw 30 touchdown passes in 2019, but he also threw 33 interceptions, and the Bucs finished that season 7-9 and missed the playoffs again. Granted, 8 of the Bucs 9 losses where by a one-possession score, imagine if Winston threw 10-15 less interceptions, Tampa Bay could've been a playoff team in 2019.
With Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl it proves that the "Patriot Way" was really the "Brady way" as Brady was able to hide all the little holes that the offense had and made it work which is why the Patriots were so successful for 20 seasons. Brady turned average guys into stars, like Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and the list goes on. That came to a halt in 2018, when the Patriots receiving core were dropping passes left and right and it started to affect Brady's numbers. Brady's numbers in 2018 and 2019 were down significantly compared to other seasons. At that moment, many believed that Brady's best days were finally behind him and that he should consider hanging it up. As soon as Brady goes to Tampa Bay, his numbers go back to where they were when he was in his prime and when he had decent receivers. It proved that it wasn't Brady getting older, it was the fact that he needed some more talent around him, something Bill failed to do for Brady on multiple occasions.
Where are they now you ask? Well, Brady is enjoying his seventh championship and going to gear up for another one next season, while the Patriots have question marks all over the field. So many holes to fill in key positions that must be addressed if the Patriots want to contend next season.
It's going to be a long offseason but something to look forward to also. Tom Brady makes his return to Gillette Stadium in 2021 to face off against the Patriots for the very first time, and it will be as a defending champion as well. When that game will take place, we will have to wait for the NFL to officially announce the schedule which should happen some time in the month of May.
Gear up Patriot fans, it's going to be a long offseason, in many different ways.