Great Patriots Debate: Who deserves more credit, Brady or Belichick?

Great Patriots Debate: Who deserves more credit, Brady or Belichick?

If there’s a more apt metaphor for building a football team than Bill Parcells’ famous “groceries” line from 22 years ago, I can’t think of it.

A refresher – when Parcells quit the Patriots in January 1997 he alluded to personnel meddling as the main reason, saying, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”


Makes sense. Players and coaches are the ingredients. The head coach/GM spreads them on the counter and knows in a glance how well he shopped and what he’s capable of presenting.

But who really does the cooking, the coach or his most important players?

And who is most responsible for a perfect dinner, the guy who did the shopping and came up with the recipe or the guy who actually stood over the flame and cooked it?

We close our Great Patriots Debate series with this Gordian Knot question: Who deserves more credit for the Patriots success, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

They are strands of DNA joined in 2000 now intertwined for 20 seasons. None of the great quarterback-head coach marriages – Montana-Walsh, Marino-Shula, Starr-Lombardi, Bradshaw-Noll, Staubach-Landry, Brees-Payton, Holmgren-Favre and Manning-Dungy – got to the same plane as Brady-Belichick.

When it comes to longevity, Lombardis and annual excellence – 13 times in the 17 seasons Brady has played more than one game, the Patriots have been in the NFL’s Final Four – it will never be matched.

Chew on this: the Patriots have been so successful in an NFL rigged for parity that the league has intervened multiple times since 2004 in an effort to bring them back to the pack, changing rules, confiscating draft picks, suspending Brady, etc. And still? Same as it ever was.

This is a collaboration like Lennon-McCartney or, maybe even more accurately, like Auerbach and Russell. If Auerbach had Wilt Chamberlain instead of Russell would the Celtics have won eight titles in nine seasons? If Belichick had Peyton Manning would the Patriots have sustained this long?

I would say no in both cases because the vision of Auerbach and Belichick needed the ethos, ego and mental makeup of Russell and Brady to achieve what they have.

But for the sake of debate, let’s try to split this atom.

The case for Belichick begins with the fact he drafted Brady. And, while he took him after 198 other players in the 1999 draft, Belichick, Charlie Weis and Scott Pioli were sharp enough to see what they had.  

Despite having an established, favorite son franchise quarterback in Drew Bledsoe, Belichick did what was best for the football team in 2001 and pried the offense from Bledsoe’s entitled hands and gave it to Brady. In doing so, Belichick had to stare down his Cleveland past and his decision to bench beloved Bernie Kosar and do the same thing again. He had to be prepared to be framed as a cold, out of touch, control freak bent on self-sabotage. And he was framed that way.

“Who benches a Pro Bowl quarterback with a $103-million contract who was forced from the field by a sheared artery in favor of a chubby checkdown expert? Someone who doesn’t learn.”

But the team-building brilliance of Belichick overwhelmed the inch-deep analysis that followed the Brady-Bledsoe decision.
The 2000 to 2004 seasons were master classes in economics, psychology, sociology and management, never mind the sublime, bottom-line, no-frills football Belichick and his staff embraced.

The first five years of this collaboration were all thanks to the architect and that was Belichick.

Those teams were carried by the New England defense. But that’s because they didn’t have the offensive firepower to put the game in Brady’s hands on a week-to-week basis. And maybe he wasn’t quite ready to hold it.

But when the defense sagged in the 2005 and 2006 seasons and Brady’s surrounding personnel got even worse, the team dipped.

Then, in 2007, when Brady was given the toys necessary to excel, he showed he was ready to take ownership of the Patriots week-to-week fortunes by having a historic season.

That’s when he became the straw that stirs the Patriots drink.

And he’s remained that for the past 12 years. He’s the one who takes the personnel equivalent of a poop sandwich with no bread – like last season – and figures it out. He’s the one who can have a player like Randy Moss exiled, see Deion Branch inserted, and be named unanimous MVP as he was in 2010.

He’s the one who can orchestrate 2014 – leading the offense to 14 points in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl against a generationally great defense to cap a season that began with the stunning trade of Logan Mankins with a championship.  

He’s the one who threw for 505 against the Eagles in SB52, keeping the Patriots afloat while their defense got shredded. And he’s the one who authored the SB51 comeback.

He does his job for less money than the other “elite” quarterbacks and he does it under circumstances that would leave the Rodgers, Roethlisbergers and Mannings in the fetal position weeping about a lack of support or protection.

Bill Belichick is the greatest coach there’s ever been in any professional sport. But he’s put five loaves and two fishes in front of Brady and asked him to perform a miracle several times. And Brady’s the one that ultimately feeds the multitude.

Agree? Or Disagree?

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Tom Brady reacts to being listed as 22 years old in game day program

Tom Brady reacts to being listed as 22 years old in game day program

Tom Brady is currently the oldest quarterback in the NFL at age 42. But apparently, not everybody knows that.

The New England Patriots quarterback posted a picture of a game day program on his Instagram story recently. And that roster had him listed at just 22 years old, as you can see via this tweet from ESPN.

That's quite a mistake to make, especially considering that Brady is one of the league's longest-tenured players. The mistake certainly must have elicited some laughs from those who noticed it. And evidently, Brady found it funny as well.

Of course, Brady was obviously happy with the results. After all, he has spent the last 10 years hearing about how old he is getting and how close to retirement he is. It must be nice to get a change of pace and be mistaken for being on the younger side.

While Brady isn't 22 anymore, he is still as spry and active as a young quarterback and evidently, he still plans on playing until he's 45. He is only under contract with the Patriots for one more year, despite the extension he inked with the team, but he has made it clear that he wants to continue playing in the NFL for the foreseeable future.

We'll soon see if that ends up being possible and how Brady fares during the 2019 NFL season.

Report: Patriots place Josh Gordon on NFI after reinstatement>>>

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Patriots release WR Dontrelle Inman after Josh Gordon's reinstatement

Patriots release WR Dontrelle Inman after Josh Gordon's reinstatement

The New England Patriots are in the process of shuffling their receiving corps ahead of the 2019 NFL season. Last Friday, they got the news that Josh Gordon was being conditionally reinstated by the NFL. But his return also means that they will likely have one less spot open for a receiver option on the team's final 53-man roster.

While Gordon is starting his time with the team on the NFI list, he may not stay there long. As a result, the team needed to release a player to make room for Gordon, but one of their veteran receivers made the decision easy for them. 

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, veteran receiver Dontrelle Inman asked for his release from the Patriots and the team elected to grant it.

The Patriots confirmed the release shortly after the reports on Twitter.

This isn't too much of a surprise, as Inman was becoming a longshot of making the Patriots' final roster. Considering that Gordon, Julian Edelman, and N'Keal Harry were virtually roster locks and impressive undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers was trending in that direction as well, Inman would have had to fight with guys like Maurice Harris, Phillip Dorsett, and Braxton Berrios for one or two spots in the receiving corps. And evidently, Inman didn't like his chances of winning that battle.

Inman will now have a chance to try to latch onto another receiver-needy team before the season starts. Or, he can wait to sign with a team that suffers injuries at the position.

As for the Patriots, they should be fine without Inman. They still have plenty of depth at the position and replacing Inman on the roster with Gordon will upgrade both their 90-man and 53-man units overall.

Slater on Gordon's return: "Football is No. 2">>>

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