Bill Belichik brought a smart plan to Buffalo, even with two unprepared receivers as his best offside players and even with a third quarter in his thigh pocket to stay there. The New England Patriots were on their way to a potentially winning touchdown, Belichick’s 36th goal. Victory in 41 games against the Patriots as coach, before Cam Newton did what Tom Brady rarely did in the dying seconds of the game.
He’s found a way to lose it.
Did Brady jump out of his seat or at least soften the applause when Newton Buffalo came within 31 seconds of the defeat, giving the Patriots their first 2-5 record since Brady made the fourth team in 2000? Maybe, maybe not. But the other day he asked if he thought Brady would find satisfaction in the diverse paths of his Tampa Bay Patriots and Belichik Patriots. Brady’s friend and former Michigan teammate Aaron Shea, who played for the Cleveland Brothers for six seasons, said Tom would never say that, but we all know who Tom Brady is. He’s the main competitor. … I think Tom really has a personal motivation when it comes to (Belichick), and I think so, too. If you got divorced, would you want your wife or husband to leave with someone better?
There is no rivalry in the NFL or in American sport, just as there is no rivalry between Brady and Belishik. In the published rankings there should be eight AFC and NFC divisions and a ninth non-affiliated division with two teams. Brady. Belichick. On Monday-evening in Tampa Bay with the New York Giants, the quarterback is three games ahead of the head coach, who now faces four defeats for the first time since 2002.
This is the third time this year we’ve been in this situation and unfortunately we couldn’t play enough to win, Belichik said after Beals finished his seven-game loss streak against New England. Later he added that in my opinion we did a lot good enough to win, but not good enough to win because we didn’t win.
What else could you have said? The Patriots have won six Super Bowls, 17 division titles (including the last 11) and numerous games like this one with Belishik and Brady in the same team. Now, 43-year-old Brady is playing for the Bucs 5-2, and the Patriots suddenly look like all the other pathetic AFC Austrian rivals who have plagued them for nearly two decades. Even the Miami Dolphins lead 4-3, with an exciting young quarterback in Tua Tagovayloa and trainer Brian Flores, who is trained in the Belichick method.
All it takes is to convince millions of soccer fans that Brady has long answered a question that hangs above the level of the league: Who is more important for the success of the Patriots, a great historical quarterback or a great historical coach?
But just because Belichick is a few touchdowns away from Brady doesn’t mean the game is over. He has just had a conversation with Sirius XM NFL radio host Bill Lecas and Charlie Weiss, his coordinator for the attacks on the first three titles of the Patriot, about the fact that Belichik almost never deviates from this week’s calls and opponents by making public comments. He might feel the need to explain the defeat while Brady was winning for someone else.
Or maybe he wanted to remind football fans that it often takes some time to build a winning team in the sport with a salary. And that he once experienced a brutal season in New England, just before he proved he could build a program like nothing the NFL had ever seen.
The truth is that the Bill Belichik 2020 team is a bit like the Bill Belichik 2000 team. What do they have in common? Losing soccer. Soccer without personality. Veteran quarterbacks who lost their only Super Bowl a few years ago and who look like smaller versions of their former self.
Drew Bledsoe finally got a big long-term contract from the Patriots (thanks to his owner Robert Kraft), which did not get the more dynamic Newton (thanks to Belishik), of course, but it seems likely that their final in New England will end on the same heap of smoke. Blodsoy twice launched the $103 million contract he signed in March 2001 before his injury opened the door for Brady. Newton, who signed a one-year contract with a minimum base salary of $1.05 million, could be one of them and do so with Belishik, regardless of whether or not Jarrett Stidham is considered a long-term answer.
But what happened in 2001, after Belichik lost 13 of his first 18 games as coach of the Patriots, should remind us how quickly and dramatically anything in the NFL can change. At the beginning of 2020, Belichick not only lost Brady at a free desk. He lost eight elite players to KOVID-19, including two strong core players, Don’a Hightower and Patrick Chang, who together spent 246 regular seasons and post-season starts for the Patriots. After having dominated AFC Vostok and the competition for a long time, Belichik is now in the same position as it was 20 years ago: He’s trying to run a whole new program.
Deductions, injuries, missed exercise and playtime on KOVID-19, as well as $26 million in death benefits for a number of former Pats, including Brady, Antonio Brown and Stephen Gostkovsky, have jeopardized the transition of the dynasty to what will happen now. It’s like the year that we would, I would say, adjust our limit of spending that we had in the accumulation of previous years, Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio. It’s just that we didn’t have as much depth on our list as some other years. This offers more opportunities for young players. So it’s a combination of all the reasons…
Of course, there is no reason why this combination should be more visible than the living legend that Belichick did not return. Brady’s girlfriend Shea gave the quarterback some advice before he signed the Tampa Bay contract. Two men from Michigan are close by. They lived on the same floor of the college, in groups directly above and below each other, and still speak to each other regularly. Brady is the godfather of Shea’s nine-year-old son Kinsey. He is now the franchisee of head coach Bruce Arian, who was Shea’s offensive coordinator in Cleveland.
I told Tom the BIA is the smartest attacker I’ve ever seen, Shea. I told Tom: You’ll have a lot of fun with him. I thought it was a match made in heaven.
I look at how New England dressed wide receivers, he says. With all due respect to everyone, come on, man. Now look at the attack in Tampa. Tom took (Rob Gronkowski), and now he’s got Antonio Brown. … Now that Tom’s got his gun, we have to count on him. I knew Tom had so much more to do and I was very motivated. He’s 43, and he’s playing like he’s 33.
Belichik, a 68-year-old boy, will almost certainly train until his 70th birthday. Some thought he would survive Brady and give himself a better chance to win another title; after all, it’s physically easier to train than to play as a quarterback. But Brady has officially announced that he can still play after 45 years, which seems more realistic this weekend. A couple of years ago, after Shea told his girlfriend that he had done his best in the game and that he needed to think about quitting, Brady asked him if he liked his job. Shea sold numbers for Browns, and he told the quarterback he didn’t like it.
All I want to do is play quarterback in the NFL, Brady said.
It has an extra year until the current agreement.
This won’t be Tom’s last contract, Mr. Shea said.
In the meantime, Brady has the chance to play against the mighty Bucs for the first time in 13 years this season and make Tampa Bay the first team to play in their home stadium in the Super Bowl. According to Shea, earning the No. 7 spot in Raymond James Stadium with Arian as coach, the same year Belichik may fall below the 500 mark for the first time since 2000, the moment Tom falls off the track.
No, Belishik shouldn’t have tried that surprise on Sunday after New England pulled in the third quarter; Bill used his position on the field to score a touchdown that Josh Allen saw get away with. We’re trying to make a positive game, Belichik said when he was asked about the strategy.
It has not been easy to play positively without Stephon Gilmore, injured in defense, and Julian Edelman, injured in attack. The two largest side shots in New England were made by unguided Jacoby Meyers and Damir Byrd, who together made nine holds and 97 yards. Newton played well until his fatal fall, but he wasn’t the same player – and New England wasn’t the same team – as he was sidelined in COVID-19. Newton has no touchdown passes against five interceptions in the last three starts.
After that, Belichick said Newton was still his quarterback, but it’s hard to know how many other patriots can leave without knowing what Steadam is. It’s funny how things are going. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert told people before the draft that he thought New England would act in the first round to pick him; NBC Sports Peter King said the Patriots were in love with Herbert as the prospect. Imagine what Belichick could do in this transition year if he got his hands on it.
Hey, sometimes you get lucky, and you find Tom Brady with number 199, and sometimes you don’t. This 2020 season will be a painful exercise for Belichick, who has to go through bad football while Brady – so far – happily lives in Tampa.
But this game isn’t over yet. Bill Belichik can still find his former quarterback and he can still build another championship team.
And Belichick can still hope that someone else will stop Tom Brady from winning another Super Bowl before he does.