What else do you want the man to do?
That’s a rhetorical question, although I’m sure the goalposts are yet again being moved on Tom Brady as we speak.
What, he didn’t even throw for 200 yards? The Bucs defense carried him. Plus, anybody could win with that team. Carpetbagger. If he doesn’t get past Green Bay and, for the first time ever, play a Super Bowl in his home stadium it’s a MAJOR FAIL!
Tom Brady, 43, is in the NFC Championship game for the first time in his career. He went to 13 in the other conference. A team that won seven games last year has now -- with Brady -- won 13. And counting. The team he was on last year won 12 and followed that up by winning seven this year. Same five-game dropoff as there was in 2008.
Any whacked-out holdouts still clinging to the belief Brady spent two decades propped up by a system, a coaching staff or a Patriotic aura are not to be considered serious people. Same goes for anyone who, come Monday, will minimize what Brady’s done for a punchline franchise.
This isn’t a "Tom proved Bill wrong" column. We’ve gone over that ground enough, right? Brady’s better at 43 than Belichick ever thought he would be. The same will be true at 44 and 45 when he’s still playing and winning.
You know how many times I heard the words, "We’re in uncharted territory here ..." as the Patriots fixation with what would happen if an aging Brady got hurt or his skills diminished? A lot. From a lot of different people. All of whom loved Tom Brady very much.
Belichick is the one who brought the concept that "It’s better to get out a year early rather than a year late" into our consciousness. Having his team revolve around Brady into the quarterback’s fifth decade on the planet was like asking someone to stand still with a white-hot coal in their open palm.
Brady knew it. He bolted. Bill gets his reboot.
Can Brady win without Belichick? Yes. And Tampa’s 2020 season will be the indelible proof. But he can only win like this because of Belichick and what he helped develop and foster. And let’s be honest. If Belichick were coaching this particular accumulation of talent in Tampa, he’d have his second 16-0 regular season.
Can Belichick win without Brady? Harder chore than what the quarterback is pulling off. He’s got to rebuild a roster that -- admittedly -- has gone shallow and stale at too many spots on his watch. But if he gets even half-a-Brady and doesn’t butcher either the draft or free agency then -- BAM! -- they’ll be back to double-digit wins.
Enough of that.
To me, the one thing about Brady that is too often overlooked -- and was overlooked in New England -- is that the man is indestructible.
Brady just sent Drew Brees into retirement. He’s outlasted Peyton Manning. He’s going to outlast Roethlisberger, Rivers and Eli. Look at this year’s playoff field. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes were unable to finish their playoff games. Alex Smith couldn’t start for WFT with a calf injury. Taysom Friggin’ Hill couldn’t play Sunday. Jared Goff was playing with a surgically repaired hand and couldn’t start the Rams first playoff game. Brady’s would-be successor here, Jimmy G., has missed more games than he’s played in San Francisco. And his real-life successor here, Cam Newton, is a shell of himself. Throw in Carson Wentz for the hell of it.
Hee-hee, ha-ha, avocado ice cream, hydration and pliability. The TB12 stuff is all a scam.
Sure it is. Meanwhile, teams are spending a quarter-billion on 27-year-olds that break every few weeks.
Brady’s probably going to go out on his shield next Sunday in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to miss some of the throws Brees did and his arm and mobility are still incomparable. Plus, the Bucs are going to be completely undone by the cold. It’s inevitable.
What Brady’s done this year isn’t quite unprecedented. Peyton Manning’s Denver run was pretty much the same thing. Same with Joe Montana in Kansas City. But even though neither was as accomplished as Brady was when he went to Tampa, they didn’t get half the crap Brady did about looming disaster.
Tom Brady was supposed to find out how tough things were away from the warm bosom of Belichick. Turns out, he stands up just fine all on his own.