After a convincing 47-7 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday afternoon,Tom Brady has led his new team; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the playoffs. It's Tampa's first playoff appearance since 2007, and they also haven't won a playoff game since their Super Bowl win back in 2002.
However, Brady has been able to continue a streak that he started in New England, his 12th consecutive season on 10+ wins and the 12th straight season that he has led his team to the postseason. The same cannot be said for Bill Belichick and Patriots who were eliminated from the postseason contention last week after their loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately Brady's team did not win their division and for the second consecutive season we will see Brady play on Wild Card weekend where Brady has a .500 mark in said round. The last two times Brady has played in the Wild Card Round, was 2009 when the Pats got blown out by the Ravens and just last season where the Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans, and what ultimately was Brady's final game in a Patriots uniform.
Since Brady and the Patriots parted ways back in March and when Brady signed his new deal with Tampa, the debate raged on here in New England on who was more valuable to the Patriots over the last 19 years, Brady or Belichick?
Early on in the season when Brady was struggling, and the Patriots playing relatively well against stiff competition, it looked like early on that Bill Belichick was winning the argument that it was more him than Brady. How the tides changed ever so quickly. The Patriots went on a four-game skid, their longest since 2002, while Brady and the Buccaneers found their stride, and Brady was able to flip the script. Over the course of the last few weeks, it was going a little more back and fourth with the Pats playing better and Bucs struggling both offensively and defensively at times.
However, it appears that Tom Brady has been declared the winner of the argument over Belichick as it has been proven that he was more valuable to the Patriots as a team than Belichick has been this year. You give Tom Brady guys who can generate some separation and let him do the rest, the offense flows smoothly and the defense can feed off of that energy. Granted Tampa's defense is far from elite, but they have done more to help the Bucs win games than Cam Newton has done all season long.
With Brady and Bucs now sitting at 10-5 and Belichick staring at his first losing season since his first season as Patriots head coach, it's clear that it was more Brady that made the Pats so successful than it was Belichick over the years. While it's true that it was Belichick who gave Brady the opportunity in the sixth round with the 199th overall selection in 2000 draft, let's forget that Brady took that in stride and has helped make Belichick the most successful head coach in NFL history.
Let's face the facts as well: Tom Brady does not owe the Patriots anything. He will always be grateful for the team taking the chance on him, and trusting him with the starting job after Drew Bledsoe went down in Week 2 of the 2001 season. Belichick as the GM should've done more to help Tom Brady out as his career progressed, especially in his last three seasons here.
With no offensive help whatsoever, Brady felt like he was being disrespected by Belichick which eventually led to his departure this offseason. Over the years, the only reliable receiver Brady had was Julian Edelman but even Edelman had a problem staying on the field, but then when he would get back, Edelman would still be battling injuries but did play through them to help the team win games.
You can also look to see on how Brady wanted a commitment from the Patriots along the lines of a multi-year contract that would ensure that Tom Brady would play for no other franchise. Unfortunately, Belichick didn't seem to feel that way and felt Brady had to prove of himself to earn the contract. What more did the man need to prove to deserve the contract that he wanted? Apparently six titles and multiple NFL records broken along the way wasn't satisfying enough.
Can we really blame Brady for leaving the Patriots nine months ago? No we cannot. Brady took pay cut, after pay cut, after pay cut in order to help keep the team compete and the hope that team would spend the money on receiver help. That money was used either for the defensive side of the football or not used at all.
Now that we are heading towards the NFL playoffs where Brady and the Buccaneers will be present and accounted for. While Bill Belichick will be watching the playoffs from his couch, so it's clear that Tom Brady has gotten the last laugh this season, but the case can still be made out. No guarantee that Brady and the Bucs will have a home Super Bowl, especially on all the inconsistencies that the team has. But the fact that Tampa is in the playoffs and the Patriots aren't just proves that it was more Brady than it was Belichick that helped the Patriots succeed over the course of the last 19 years.
Let's also face this fact while we are at it. If Drew Bledsoe never went down with the injury in 2001, chances are, the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl that season or for years to come. Tom Brady would've been a career back up, bouncing from team to team, and the Patriots would be like the Cleveland Browns, going through head coaches like tissue paper.
Those are a lot of "ifs" and "would've" that we will never know the answers to those questions, given the fact that they haven't invented time machines yet. Or discovered an alternate universe in which nothing makes sense.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers currently sit in the fifth slot in the NFC Playoff Picture. Where they finish and who they face is still up in the air so a little bit of incentive right there for the Bucs to try to win next week against the Atlanta Falcons. For the Patriots, it's all about trying to salvage a .500 record to close out the season and show that this team was still completive through a 16-game season in their first season without Tom Brady.
To wrap this up, the winner of the Brady vs Belichick debate is Tom Brady with the him cementing his spot in the postseason.