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When the 2020 NFL regular season begins, things will be quite a bit different for the New England Patriots. For the first time in two decades, Tom Brady won’t be present in Foxboro; the veteran quarterback, of course, has joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At least one former Patriot, however, believes that reality will give his old club an advantage.

In terms of on-field ability, Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham can’t hold a candle to Brady. According to Rodney Harrison, though, the quarterback change should give the Patriots a mental edge during the 2020 campaign.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots broke up after 20 years

No matter what changed in the NFL, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots always seemed like a package deal. This spring, however, that finally changed.

After 20 years in New England, Brady finally hit free agency and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While there are legitimate questions about his ability to transform the team into a contender—for all of his winning pedigree, Brady is almost 43-years old and was never the most athletic—the quarterback has already changed the Florida team’s attitude. There’s plenty of talent on offense, the team seems collectively engaged, and there’s a buzz around the Buccaneers for the first time in a while.

In New England, however, the future hasn’t yet taken form. Unless Bill Belichick pulls a rabbit out of his hat, the Patriots will start the season with either Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham under center. No matter how strongly you believe in Belichick’s coaching and managerial abilities, neither of those men seem like world-beaters.

Given that change and the importance of a quarterback in the modern NFL, many suspect the Patriots will struggle, at least early in the season. One former New England star, however, believes Tom Brady’s departure will give the team a mental edge.

Rodney Harrison thinks the Patriots will have a chip on their shoulder

While no one expects the New England Patriots to completely implode during 2020, most fans expect the club to lose a step without Tom Brady under center. Rodney Harrison, however, believes those predictions will actually help the team.

“[Bill Belichick] might bring up a couple articles … everybody saying it’s over, Brady this, Brady that,” the former safety told Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald. “Of course he’ll say something about that. But at the end of the day, whether he makes the point or not, he knows the team will be motivated to prove they can win without Tom.”

Motivation is all well and good, but emotions don’t always into wins. Harrison, for what it’s worth, insists that the Patriots will follow through on the football field.

“It’s not just talk, not with the Patriots. It’s a chip you carry in the weight room, you carry in the film room, in the dining room, you carry at home watching extra film, it’s a chip that motivates you,” he continued. “It’s motivating for people to say you can’t win without Brady. I know I would be pissed. … So these guys are going to be motivated, pumped up, and ready to go.”

Rodney Harrison isn’t the only one turning Tom Brady’s departure into a positive for the Patriots

While Rodney Harrison’s claims may seem a bit optimistic, he isn’t the only former Patriot turning Tom Brady’s departure into a positive. Christian Fauria made a similar statement, albeit for a different reason.

Speaking on WEEI, Fauria posited that Brady and the Patriots simply wanted different things. While the breakup might be painful in the short-term, it could be best for both parties in the long run. In Tampa, Brady will get two well-paid chances to chase another Super Bowl; in New England, the Patriots will get a chance to start looking toward the future. Like it or not, Tom Brady couldn’t remain under center forever.

Even the most optimist New England Patriots fan, though, will concede that the 2020 NFL season will be tough without Tom Brady; the Patriots weren’t exactly world-beaters last year, and it will be hard to improve with either Stidham or Hoyer leading the offense. If you believe Rodney Harrison and Christian Fauria, however, losing TB12 won’t be an automatic death sentence.


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