Even diehard New England Patriots fans struggle with the Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick debate. After all, it’s nearly impossible to determine which football legend contributed more to the franchise’s unprecedented run of success.
Belichick supporters will point to his ability to formulate game plans, his deep knowledge of the NFL rulebook, and his penchant for turning castoffs into contributors as reasons why he deserves more credit for New England’s six Super Bowl titles. Those on #TeamBrady only need to bring up 28-3 to remind everyone what the most clutch quarterback in NFL history is capable of.
But as the Buccaneers and their new quarterback prepare for a playoff run, the Cam Newton-led Patriots could finish with a losing record for the first time since 2000. That has only given Brady supporters more reason to further the idea that the GOAT made Belichick and not the other way around.
Luckily for Belichick, he may still have a chance to get the last laugh over his former quarterback depending on what direction the Detroit Lions go in their general manager search.
Bill Belichick doesn’t look so good without Tom Brady
In his only other stint as an NFL head coach (sorry Jets fans), Bill Belichick compiled a 36-44 record with the Cleveland Browns. Although the team did show progress, the Browns experienced a significant drop-off in his final year with the franchise. After going 11-5 and winning a playoff game in 1994, Cleveland posted a disappointing 5-11 record in 1995.
Despite getting fired, Belichick got another chance at becoming a head coach when Robert Kraft hired him to take over the Patriots. Obviously, that decision turned out to be a terrific one.
At first, though, it didn’t seem that way. New England posted a 5-11 record in Belichick’s first year at the helm. Of course, that came with Drew Bledsoe running the offense.
But once Tom Brady took over, everything changed. Though he played a game-manager role early in his career, the former sixth-round pick developed into an elite quarterback who almost always delivered in the clutch.
Together, Brady and Belichick owned the AFC East for two decades. They won a ton of big games, including six Super Bowls. Yet, the marriage came to an end this year when Gisele Bundchen’s husband signed with the Bucccaneers.
While the Patriots have other issues besides the quarterback position, it’s impossible to ignore that Belichick has once again had a losing season now that Brady isn’t his quarterback.
The Lions have interest in a pair of former Patriots for their GM job
Bill Belichick worked with some talented personnel executives during the Patriots’ dominant two-decade run with Tom Brady at quarterback. Several future NFL general managers gained valuable experience rising up the ranks in New England.
Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff headline a list of accomplished executives who learned under Belichick. The former played a major role in establishing the core of the early dynasty teams in New England before he became the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. The latter worked as the Patriots’ director of college scouting from 2003-2007 before he took over GM duties in Atlanta in 2008. Dimitroff got fired back in October.
Ironically, the former colleagues are officially competing for the same job. On Thursday, The Athletic reported the Lions will interview Pioli and Dimitroff for their GM vacancy. The 54-year-old former Falcons GM worked as an area scout for the Lions from 1994-97.
Although Detroit has other candidates in the mix for the position, it’s interesting that a franchise that just cut ties with two former Patriots in Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia will interview two more people with close ties to New England.
While that may not excite Lions fans, it should make Bill Belichick very happy. Because if Detroit goes in a Patriots-centric direction in the hiring process, that could be the key to Belichick getting the last laugh over Tom Brady.
Detroit could be the key to Belichick getting the last laugh over Brady
It’s no secret that the Lions are in a state of transition. Hiring a GM represents the first domino to fall. Finding the right head coach will also be critical. Plus, Detroit faces a major decision about Matthew Stafford’s future with franchise.
And if either Pioli or Dimitroff gets the GM job, that could be the key to Bill Belichick proving everyone wrong about his inability to win without Tom Brady.
In all likelihood, the Lions’ next head coach will want to build around a young quarterback rather than the former No. 1 pick from the 2009 NFL draft. In that case, it will be on the GM to find a new home for Stafford.
And it won’t be hard to find a trade partner.
Belichick’s relationships with Pioli and Dimitroff make the Patriots a logical candidate for Stafford’s services. Both sides would benefit from a trade for the 32-year-old quarterback.
New England could send draft picks (they have plenty of ammo) and/or a player in order to land one of the most naturally gifted passers in the league. That would give Detroit assets to help rebuild.
Landing Stafford would give New England a legitimate top-12 quarterback who may even take his game to another level with Josh McDaniels as his play-caller.
Belichick certainly has a lot more work to do to improve the overall roster. But if one of his old friends gets the Detroit GM job, he can rely on those connections to help fill his team’s biggest hole.
And with a quarterback with Stafford’s skillset and toughness, Belichick could very well turn the Patriots back into Super Bowl champions…without Tom Brady.