NFL Rumors: Tom Brady was 'Belichick'd out' after 20 years with Patriots

NFL Rumors: Tom Brady was 'Belichick'd out' after 20 years with Patriots

Since Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago, there's been plenty of speculation about why he made the stunning decision to end his New England Patriots tenure.

Perhaps it's as simple as Brady wanting a change of scenery after 20 years in Foxboro. Or maybe it was about the Patriots' lack of offensive firepower, which was evident throughout the 2020 campaign.

New England didn't exactly go all out to keep their six-time Super Bowl champion QB, either. As our own Tom E. Curran has noted, the Patriots made it clear to Brady over the last few years they weren't in it with him for the long-haul anymore.

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Another popular theory, however, is Brady had enough of Bill Belichick's strict coaching style. ESPN's Ian O'Connor added fuel to that fire Sunday in an article that documents the Buccaneers' pursuit of Brady in free agency. O'Connor notes Brady was "Belichick'd out" after 20 years and wanted to play for a player's coach like Bruce Arians.

Here's the full excerpt from O'Connor's piece:

Measured against Belichick, Arians is a stand-up comic with a funny-looking cap and a strange way of managing defeat. "Win or lose, we booze," is Arians' oft-stated philosophy. Though people close to Brady believe that he was looking for a little more humanity in his coaching ("Tom was Belichick'd out after 20 years," said one friend), and that Arians' let's-grab-a-couple-beers-and-sneak-in-nine-holes approach will be a welcome change, some league officials who know all parties wonder how Brady will adjust to a head coach who doesn't quite match Belichick's maniacal hours or attention to detail.

Arians' style is a complete 180 from Belichick's, so it's certainly going to be interesting to see how Brady fits in an entirely different environment. It'll either be a breath of fresh air for the 42-year-old QB, or he'll soon find out that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

As for how Belichick and the Patriots will proceed without Brady, that remains to be seen. As of now, it looks like they'll roll with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham. They also have veteran Brian Hoyer in the QB room (again) and could look to add another young arm via the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jason McCourty explains how Patriots' Joejuan Williams 'got better' as a rookie

Jason McCourty explains how Patriots' Joejuan Williams 'got better' as a rookie

Joejuan Williams didn't play much as a rookie in the 2019 NFL season, but one of his teammates is confident he'll be ready when the opportunity arrives.

The New England Patriots selected Williams out of Vanderbilt in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old cornerback played in nine regular season games for the Patriots in his rookie campaign, and he played more snaps on special teams (84) than he did on defense (80).

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Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty liked what he saw from Williams last season despite his limited playing time. In a video conference call with reporters Wednesday, McCourty explained how Williams' compete level was a huge factor in his improvement during the 2019 campaign.

"He loves to compete," McCourty said. "I think that’s something that you need. Obviously, at our position, when you’re in the back end, any mistake can be a 70-yard touchdown or a game-changing play, so I think you’ve got to have guys that are willing to go out there every single day and compete your butts off and get better. That’s what he did last year. As a rookie, he came in, he was willing to learn, he was willing to listen, and I felt like every day when we went out there on the practice field, he got better.

"I think not only for him being a rookie, but for all of us as a team, that’s what the process is about. Whether you’re in year one or you’re in year 12, every day you’ve got to show up with a willingness to compete and to prove that you belong there and a willingness to get better and listen to coaching. I think whether it’s Joejuan, whether it was D’Angelo (Ross) before he got here, Malik (Gant), all of those young guys came in and they were willing to listen to the older guys, listen to the coaches and really do everything that was asked of them on a daily basis to make sure they were making the necessary movements forward to get better as a football player."

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Did Williams prove he belonged? McCourty said he did, but not before getting in a friendly jab at Vanderbilt.

"I mean, he went to Vanderbilt, so that’s a little bit of a knock on him. In the SEC, they’re one of the weaker schools, but other than that, yeah, he definitely did."

One way for Williams to play more snaps in 2020 is by learning to play safety. The ability to fill in at cornerback and safety would provide the Patriots defense with valuable versatility, and we know Patriots head coach Bill Belichick very much values players who excel at multiple positions.

The Patriots have tons of depth and loads of talent in their secondary -- highlighted by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner Stephon Gilmore -- but that doesn't mean Williams won't fill a key role for that group next season, especially if he's able to play both cornerback and safety.

Why Jason McCourty doesn't like proposed NFL onside kick alternative

Why Jason McCourty doesn't like proposed NFL onside kick alternative

Consider the following scenario: The New England Patriots lead the Jets by 14 points late in the fourth quarter when New York scores a touchdown to cut the lead to seven.

But rather than sending out their "hands team" to field the Jets' onside kick attempt, the Patriots must send their defense back onto the field to stop New York in a fourth-and-15 scenario from the 25-yard line.

That's the bold rule proposal the NFL's competition committee will vote on at the league's virtual meetings.

If Jason McCourty had a vote, it'd be a hard "no."

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"From the competitive side, especially as a defensive back, you don't mind that pressure going out there on fourth-and-15 and saying, 'All right, we've got to show up to win the game,' " the Patriots cornerback said Wednesday during a video conference with reporters.

"But conversely, if I'm a team and we've earned the right to be up, we’ve made the plays necessary to be winning in the fourth quarter ... I have a chance to seal the game by just going to catch an onside kick versus being out there for a fourth-and-15.

"From that standpoint, I don't really understand it. We're now basically rewarding you for being behind."

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It's not easy to convert a fourth-and-15; only two teams successfully converted that scenario in 2019 on seven total attempts. But that success rate was still higher than for onside kicks: Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kicks were recovered last season, per NFL Research.

Based solely on the numbers, this rule change would make it easier for teams to come back. So, it stands to reason that McCourty -- a defensive player on a team that's usually on the winning side -- isn't a fan.

The 32-year-old veteran is well aware of why the league would be motivated to pass such a rule, though -- and knows head coach Bill Belichick will be prepared for whatever the NFL decides.

"We're in the entertainment business, and an onside kick versus a 4th-and-15 is a lot more intriguing," McCourty said. "So, we have no control over it.

"If they vote yes, then we'll be out there preparing situationally how to stop fourth-and-15s with the game on the line."