NFL: Does Bill Belichick or Tom Brady Deserve More Credit for the New England Patriots Success?

The New England Patriots are the most prominent NFL team of our time. Since 2001, when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady paired up together as the head coach and starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, the team has been able to earn a Regular Season record of 204 wins and only 58 losses. That’s a 0.7787 winning percentage!

Furthermore, in the Postseason, the Pats are 27-10 with 15 AFC East Division Championships, 8 AFC Championships, 8 Superbowl Appearances, and 5 Superbowl Championships.

It’s very difficult to think of a time in which a team was this successful for such a long period of time. The consistency of this duo is just absurd. Just take a look at the team’s record each season since the duo got together.

pats

They haven’t had a year with less than 10 wins except for once and that was Tom Brady’s 2nd year as a starter when he earned a 9-7 record. Furthermore, they’ve only missed the playoffs twice, once during that 9-7 season, and the other when they had an 11-5 record in 2008 when Brady missed the full season due to injury.

We don’t have to labor the point that the New England Patriots have been able to build a successful dynasty. That’s not up for question at all and I say that as a New York Giants fan. What is up for debate is who deserves more of the credit? Who was more valuable for this success, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

The only way to figure this out is to consider what they were each able to accomplish without one another. What was Brady able to do without Belichick and what was Belichick able to do without Brady? Well, let’s look at how it all came together.

Prior to being named as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for five seasons from 1991 to 1995. In that span, Belichick was able to earn a record of 36 wins and 44 losses. Out of those five seasons, he was only able to muster one winning record in the fourth season. In that year, Belichick earned an 11-5 record which led the Browns to a 1-1 postseason record. Unfortunately, in the following year, the Browns flipped their record and fell back to 5-11. Clearly, this was not a successful experience for Belichick.

Well, let’s look at how it all came together. Prior to being named as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for five seasons from 1991 to 1995. In that span, Belichick was able to earn a record of 36 wins and 44 losses. Out of those five seasons, he was only able to muster one winning record in the fourth season. In that year, Belichick earned an 11-5, record which led the Browns to a 1-1 postseason record. Unfortunately, in the following year, the Browns flipped their record and fell back to 5-11. Clearly, this was not a successful experience for Belichick.

Well, let’s look at how it all came together. Prior to being named as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for five seasons from 1991 to 1995. In that span, Belichick was able to earn a record of 36 wins and 44 losses. Out of those five seasons, he was only able to muster one winning record in the fourth season. In that year, Belichick earned an 11-5, record which led the Browns to a 1-1 postseason record. Unfortunately, in the following year, the Browns flipped their record and fell back to 5-11. Clearly, this was not a successful experience for Belichick.

After this stint, Belichick was named head coach of the New England Patriots in 2000. At the same time as Belichick joined the Pats, so did Tom Brady. It was in this summer, in the 2000 draft, that Tom Brady was selected by the Patriots as the 199th overall selection.

Although the duo joined the Pats in the year 2000, Brady wasn’t the starter until 2001. During the 2000 season, Drew Bledsoe was the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots. In this season, Belichick was only able to earn a 5-11 record with Bledsoe, obviously not earning a playoff spot.

However, everything would change in the following year. After starting 0-1 with Bledsoe in the 2001 season, the 2nd game of the year would forever come to be known in history. In just the 2nd game of the season,¬†Drew Bledsoe took a hard clean hit that would forever change his life.¬†Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest, almost resulting in his death, that sidelined him for months. This hit would come to be known in history as the end of Bledsoe’s career with the Patriots and the beginning of Tom Brady’s.

As a result of the hit, Brady was immediately inserted into the game and would start the rest of the season for the Patriots. In this season, Brady would earn an 11-3 record as a starter, putting the Patriots in prime position for a Postseason run with an 11-5 record.

In the Postseason, Brady continued to lead the team to success. In fact, Bledsoe actually returned in the Postseason for a game-winning drive against the Steelers, when Brady got injured. None the less, Brady was selected as the starter for the Superbowl and would lead the team to a Superbowl championship. In the summer to follow, Bledsoe was traded to the Bills and Brady would forever remain the starter.

18 years later and the duo is still grinding for more success, but with the end nearing, the question remains, who was the more valuable of the two?

Well, Tom Brady has never had another coach in the NFL so it’s impossible to really assess Belichick’s worth, however, Belichick did have other quarterbacks and teams that he coached. In assessing his time with the Browns, who were a totally different team, Belichick wasn’t successful. Again, he only earned 36 wins while giving up 44 losses.

In assessing his coaching with the 2000 Patriots, who were much more like the 2001 Patriots, Belichick was again unsuccessful as he only mustered a 5-11 record that year.

None the less, there is one year that proves Belichick’s worth and that is the 2008 season. In the very first game that year, Tom Brady was injured and would miss the rest of the season. Matt Cassell was called upon in his place and started the rest of the year.

If Brady was the more valuable of the duo, this year should be a lost cause. The Patriots should have at best, an 8-8 record because Brady was done for the season. Well, shockingly, the Patriots ended with an 11-5 record! Does this mean that Belichick is that valuable or was Matt Cassell just that good?

Look, at the end of the day, it’s almost impossible to really assess each person’s worth. In a team sport like football where every man involved has a role, it’s impossible to compare and contrast. What we do know is that Bill Belichick is a master of putting together hard working individuals. He has a knack for bringing in talented individuals that no one else seems to look at. Furthermore, the New England Patriots are unique in their approach to the game and their professionalism and that is because of Bill Belichick. He puts an aura around that team and gives them a confidence and expectation to win that is not found in any other team.

In the same mindset, Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen. That’s not even up for debate. The guy has an all-time record of 231 wins and only 68 losses with a career rating of 97.5. He’s a 5-time Superbowl champion with 4 Superbowl MVPs and 3 NFL MVPs. Above the numbers, which everyone wants to argue about, Brady is the absolute competitor. He’s the ultimate underdog, the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, becoming a 5-time Superbowl champion! More than just himself, Brady gets his players focused and inspires them to strive for success. The guy is just the quarterback everyone wants and the teammate everyone wants.

At the end of the day, there’s no need to put Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at odds. Why does one have to be more valuable than the other? They practically started their tenures with the Patriots together and have both been a huge part in the success of that organization. It’s obvious that Tom Brady is legendary and in the same regard, it takes a skilled coach to utilize a legendary player properly. Not every coach will know what pieces to put around Brady or how to manage that situation. We’ve seen plenty of “good” coaches screw up talented teams and we’re seeing it right now with the Oakland Raiders!

Ultimately, Belichick and Brady are both responsible for the success. History should not aim to discredit one over the other. Rather, both should be remembered as the best duo this sport has ever seen. After all, football is a team sport.

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