Tom Brady Tampa Buccaneers Super Bowl Takes Nothing Away From Bill Belichick

Tom Brady Bill Belichick

Tom Brady is going to his tenth Super Bowl in 2020. However, it is his first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After spending his first 20 years in the league with the New England Patriots, Brady has been tied to his head coach Bill Belichick. The pairing is responsible for the most enduring and dominant dynasty in professional sports history. However, as the two split, many are now questioning if one of them made the other as great as they are. Although Brady left New England and went straight to the Super Bowl, Belichick’s Patriots experienced their first losing season in over two decades. Regardless of this fact, Brady’s success takes nothing away from Belichick’s legacy as a head coach.

Bill Belichick Is Still Great, Even With Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers In Super Bowl

Easier for Tom Brady to Hand Pick a Winner

Those that want to point to Brady making it to the Super Bowl in his first season outside of New England should stop to consider the advantage Brady had in making it to the Super Bowl. Brady was able to almost hand-pick the team that he felt would give him the best shot at making the Super Bowl. He chose well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 7-9 in their first season with Bruce Arians coming out of retirement. They also did this with their quarterback, Jameis Winston, throwing 30 interceptions.

Considering the team had a turnover-prone quarterback and a head coach fresh out of retirement, 7-9 was a great achievement, and shows how ready they were to compete at the top level, with one additional piece. After all, the Buccaneers sported one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in 2019, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Ronald Jones is also one of the more underappreciated running backs in the league as well.

On defense, although they weren’t great on paper in 2019, they had plenty of pieces on defense. Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are threats on the defensive line and Vita Vea is a rising star. Lavonte David has been one of the better linebackers in the game for years. Carlton Davis is also coming into his own at the corner position.

From there, the team added defensive standouts Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr. in the draft this season. They also got the “Tom Brady” effect, with other players like Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette joining the squad this season. This doesn’t take anything away from Brady, but it certainly made his transition to his new team much easier. There is no doubt that the Buccaneers roster is one of the most stacked in the league.

Bill Belichick Helped Develop Tom Brady

Many people forget that Brady didn’t just come into the league and immediately light up the stat sheets. In recent history, Brady was known for his awesome touchdown to interception ratio. In fact, from 2014 to 2017, Brady threw less than ten interceptions each year. From 2013 to 2019, he didn’t throw more than 11 in a season. During that same span, the only time he has fewer than 4,000 passing yards was in 2016, when he missed four games.

But looking at Brady’s first six years as a starter, he only topped 4,000 passing yards once and never had fewer than 12 interceptions. In fact, until his explosion in 2007 when he threw 50 touchdown passes, Brady never even topped 30 during a full season. Regardless, Brady still won three Super Bowls before his 2007 explosion.

This was because Brady didn’t have to do too much. Belichick built his teams around a strong run game and a stifling defense. Brady came into the league with a chip on his shoulder after being a sixth-round pick. But he himself will admit he was not a first-round talent at the time. His tireless work ethic has helped him get better and better as he aged in the NFL. But Belichick’s coaching style undoubtedly helped Brady develop during his time in the league.

There is no doubt that Brady’s development has helped Belichick stay on top for as long as he did. At the same time, it is fair to wonder who would be calling Brady the GOAT had he landed on a team like the Cleveland Browns instead of the New England Patriots.

A Losing Battle for Bill Belichick

Even in 2019, the cracks in the Patriots roster were already starting to appear. On offense, the team was severely lacking playmakers. The team struggled mightily to find offensive weapons. Julian Edelman paced the team with 1,117 yards receiving, but the next leading pass-catcher was scat-back James White with 645. Aside from that, no one even topped 400 yards. Sony Michel was the team’s leading rusher, but hugely inefficient. Despite almost 250 carries, he didn’t top 1,000 yards, averaging a paltry 3.7 yards-per-attempt.

New England’s defense carried them to the playoffs. They were ranked first in yards allowed and second in turnovers. However, that defensive play didn’t carry over into 2020. Overall, they had a league-high eight players opt out of playing in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Two of those players were among their best on the defensive side of the ball: Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung. Without them, their defense fell to 15th in yards-per-game allowed for 2020.

On the offensive side, things didn’t get any better either. Cam Newton came in to replace Brady and struggled mightily at times. He was as good as a rusher as ever, scoring 12 touchdowns and accumulating just shy of 600 yards. As a thrower, he experienced some of his usual struggles. Newton only managed an almost laughable eight touchdowns through the air, contrasted by 10 interceptions.

But he also worked with a wide receiver group that was even worse than Brady’s 2019 squad. Edelman was limited to just six games. This left the 2020 undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers to lead the team in yards with just 729. On a yards-per-carry basis, their run game improved. Still, the team dealt with injuries all season, which left them unsure of who would start at the position on a weekly basis.

The Bottom Line on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

All in all, the 2020 season had two very different motives for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. At 43, an age that very few quarterbacks make it to in the NFL, Brady knows that his time is running short. He had to go to a team that was willing to go all-in to get to the Super Bowl. And he chose well. But Belichick doesn’t have to go that route. Though he is not young himself, he still has plenty of years left as a head coach. And after the 2019 season, he likely saw that his squad was one that could truly compete for a title in 2020, with or without Brady.

Knowing the time would come where he would not have a choice on moving on from Brady, he decided to cut the cord and start over now. And after a flurry of opt-outs that played a part in a sub-par roster, Belichick spent the 2020 season feeling out how his post-Brady roster is going to look. Although at the moment, Brady looks like the winner of the question of “who made who?” Belichick needs more time before that answer can be decided.

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