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For the past two decades, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were an inseparable pair. No matter what happened in the NFL, you could count on them; every postseason, you knew the Patriots would be making a run at the crown. This year, however, things will be a bit different.

Brady, of course, is leaving New England; while there hasn’t been an official confirmation from the player or the club, he’s set to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Back with the Patriots, though, life without the veteran quarterback will put Bill Belichick to the test.

Tom Brady is officially leaving New England

During the 2019 NFL season, speculation started swirling that Tom Brady was getting ready to leave the New England Patriots. On Tuesday, that rumor became a reality.

In the morning, Brady broke the news himself. He shared a lengthy thank you on his social media channels, praising both the New England fans and the Patriots organization. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments,” he wrote.

Shortly after, Bill Belichick made his own statement. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was,” the coach explained. “With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years. … He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”

This will put Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way to the test

Under the reign of Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots have developed a certain way of doing things; that ethos has become known as “the Patriot Way.” While the head coach claims he isn’t familiar with the concept, the idea will now be put to the test.

Regardless of what the team preaches internally, the Patriot Way has become a sort of shorthand for believing a system is greater than any individual player; everyone shows up and does their job, no matter who they are. Tom Brady might get hurt, but the Patriot Way allows Matt Cassel and Jimmy Garappolo to step into the breach without missing a beat. The system allows guys who went undrafted, like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, to become key players on championship teams.

Recently, however, that theory has been put to the test. Rob Gronkowski simply wasn’t replaceable. Without the big tight end, defenses didn’t think twice about double-teaming Julian Edelman; that reality left Tom Brady publically frustrated during the 2019 campaign.

This upcoming NFL season will put all of Bill Belichick’s coaching and general management skills to the test. He’ll be going into the season without his right-hand man; while the Patriot Way means he should be able to plug someone else in without missing a beat, there are bound to be at least a few hiccups in Foxboro.

Will Bill Belichick or Tom Brady have a better 2020?

While neither Bill Belichick nor Tom Brady is likely to think about showing up the other party, this year could put one of sports great questions to the test. Who is more important to a team’s success: a star player or a masterful coach?

In terms of team success, bookmakers are already giving the quarterback the edge. On Monday night, the Buccaneers’ odds of winning the Super Bowl jumped to 16/1; at the same time, the Patriots’ odds fell to 20/1. Individual success, however, could be measured differently.

Even if the Patriots finally lose their grip on the AFC East, this season will put all of Bill Belichick’s skills as a coach and general manager to the test. For years, he’s been receiving plaudits for building a system that was greater than any one player; now, he’ll get a chance to put it to the test.