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Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick: Why It Is Too Early to Declare a Victory in the Battle for Dynasty Credit

Why fans should not rush to declare a victor in the Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick debate over who deserves more credit for the Patriots' dynasty.
Tom Brady

When Tom Brady left the New England Patriots, it was inevitable it would stir up the debate which has raged among fans and pundits alike throughout the team’s two-decade reign as one of the league’s most dominant franchises.

For years, Brady critics have argued he’s a system quarterback who is the product of genius coaching at the hands of Bill Belichick while Brady fans have said his elite skill and leadership are the main reason behind the team’s two decades of dominance.

And now, as we hit the mid-point of the season, the disparity between Brady’s new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Patriots has stoked the fires of debate again with many pointing to their respective records – 6-3 and 2-5 – as evidence Brady is the victor.

But it will be months if not years before that argument can be truly settled if ever. It is far too early and it would be unwise to write Belichick off as a fraud who rode Brady’s coattails to six Super Bowl Championships.

Here’s what you need to bear in mind.

Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick in the Battle for New England Patriots Dynasty Credit 

The Patriots Are in the Middle of Installing a New Offense

Cam Newton and Tom Brady are very different quarterbacks. Aside from the obvious silverware Brady has to his name, he is a completely different caliber and style of quarterback than Newton.

Newton brought options for Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, with the most notable difference between him and Brady being his mobility and his ability to scramble whether that’s for vital yardage or for touchdowns.

For two decades, Brady relied on his ability to release the ball quicker than most in the game, finding receivers for neat but rarely deep gains.

While his pocket awareness is second-to-none, when it collapsed, fans would rarely see Brady scramble up the field for much yardage to make a play.

With Cam Newton under center, then, it brings in a whole new type of offense with different options and its clear the Patriots and Bill Belichick are in the process of ironing that out.

Already this season, Newton has rushed for 298 yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 5.6 yards and his longest run at 38 yards. This ability adds an explosive element to the team’s offense they have never had before, an element that opposing defenses have to constantly be alert for.

Just like they did for Brady, the Patriots need time to build an offense that exploits their quarterback’s strengths.

They also need time for their offense to adjust to losing Brady. It’s undeniable that he left a huge hole which has no doubt deflated the offense and most likely the locker room too.

Tom Brady Is Not the Only Reason the Buccaneers Offense Is Outperforming the Patriots

Brady is undoubtedly an improvement on 2019 Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston put up impressive numbers last season in most areas. Through nine weeks, he had thrown for 2,765 yards and 17 touchdowns.

How does that compare to Brady? Well, Brady has thrown for 2,398 yards and 20 touchdowns.

So why were the 2019 Bucs 3-6 through nine weeks but the 2020 Bucs are 6-3? Winston threw exactly twice as many interceptions as Brady – 14 to his 7 – which ultimately is why he got the sack.

But still, the point remains that in all other areas, Brady isn’t massively outshining his predecessor. Aside from keeping possession, it’s the extra weapons surrounding Brady that’s helping him settle in Florida.

When Tom Brady announced he was heading to Tampa, it wasn’t long before one of his favorite New England targets, Rob Gronkowski, came out of retirement and reunited with him.

But the prolific tight end was not the only player Brady brought in to the Tampa Bay offense. In total, he acquired seven additional weapons to add to a talented roster which already included one of the NFL’s best wide receiver duos in the form of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

While he may have made stars out of receivers in the past, it’s clear the 43-year-old Brady needs elite weapons to be his best – that’s a large reason why he left New England.

In that case, it seems harsh then to compare the 2020 New England Patriots offense to Tampa and use it as evidence of Belichick’s demise.

There’s no telling what Bill could do with that kind of team in Tampa, even in a tougher division. Don’t forget, Belichick has a winning record against every NFC team apart from the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks – both of whom he’s tied with at 3-3.

Sometimes Excuses Are Just Very Good Reasons

There’s a case to be made that this entire season will carry an asterisk next to it when it takes its place in NFL history.

Covid-19 led to dozens of players opting out of playing this year and the virus has since wreaked devastation on several rosters, some more than others.

Thursday night’s matchup between Green Bay and San Francisco practically looked like a pre-season game.

And you can most certainly count New England among those teams impacted deeply by the pandemic.

Yes, it sounds like sour grapes but sometimes excuses offered by struggling teams constitute valid explanations.

Cam Newton’s Covid diagnosis and subsequent absence devastated any momentum and consistency the Patriots had hoped of building at the start of the season.

It was essential they hit the ground running to instill confidence in the locker room and they were not able to do that.

They secured a confident win in Miami and put up an impressive and closely-contested fight in Seattle and sealing a win in Oakland before Cam was ruled out with his positive test.

This meant heading to a vital AFC match-up with the Kansas City Chiefs with back-up quarterbacks. With limited to no practice, the Patriots went on a four-game losing streak which was not halted when Cam came back.

Bill ‘Do Your Job’ Belichick is known for instilling discipline and hard work in his players but how can that ethos sink in when they are not able to practice and several players are unable to take the field?

Sure, regardless of Covid-19, the Patriots have been sloppy – Cam has taken personal responsibility for turning the ball over and making poor decisions – but it seems illogical to use this season as evidence Bill’s coaching genius is being exposed as fraudulent since Brady’s departure.

We may never be able to fairly determine who deserves more credit between Brady and Belichick as the passage of time introduces too many variable factors and most New England Patriots fans will tell you they are both the greatest at what they do.

But for those determined to fall one way or the other, it is definitely too soon to be drawing any conclusions from this season and we should wait until they have both retired before we can decide if a victor needs to be declared.

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