Belichick Doesn’t End QB Controversy

Ian Logue
October 2, 2001 at 4:03 pm ET

FOXBORO, MA — Bill Belichick had his first opportunity on Monday to let everyone know that as soon as veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe returns, he will step back into the line-up as the the team’s starting quarterback and send second-year back-up and current starter Tom Brady back to the sidelines.

The only problem is, he didn’t exactly do that, and thus the speculation begins.

“Drew’s not playing this week, and probably won’t be playing this week,” said Belichick on Tuesday. “Right now we’re just trying to get ready for Miami.”

“They’re a good football team and Tom will be the quarterback in Miami and that’s really it. There’s nothing else to talk about.”

After suffering internal bleeding following a vicious blow he took last Sunday, Bledsoe spent Sunday afternoon on the sidelines wearing a headset and working with Brady throughout the game. It’s obvious that it will probably be several more weeks until Bledsoe is truly ready to return, as due to the severity of the injury there’s no point in having him come back too quickly. Now the only problem will be whether or not Belichick is willing to let him step right back in.

For now the Patriots head coach says he is focusing on this week’s game against the Dolphins, and will wait until Bledsoe is healthy enough to have to make that decision.

“I don’t know how [Bledsoe] is going to be when he comes back,” said Belichick. “We’ll take care of that when it happens. Right now we’re looking at Miami, and we’re going to go forward with Tom at quarterback just like we did this week against Indianapolis.”

“There’s a whole lot of hypotheticals, there’s other guys that are going to be coming in the next week or two, and there’s really not much to talk about with them either until they’re ready to do anything.”

It is the head coach’s job after all to instill confidence in his players and this could be one of those things where rather than saying that “Absolutely, when Drew returns he is the starter,” he may instead be letting Brady know that he is ‘the man’ and that his only concern for now should be winning football games and not his future. To come out and say that Drew would automatically step back in would obviously cause Brady to think that no matter what he does on the field, he’s still headed back to the sidelines when it comes time for #11 to return to the line-up.

Belichick’s been in this business a long time, so let’s not get too carried away by Monday’s comments.

It’s tough to simply hand Brady the job as the future quarterback considering that Bledsoe is and has been the heart and soul of this football team. The downside of Sunday’s game as far as Brady was concerned was that he didn’t make any plays that would cause everyone to believe he should without a doubt be the new starter. But the good news for him is he has probably at least two, maybe three more starts to show that he might be able to do it over a period of time.

So for now the buzz will continue, and Brady will be tested this weekend when the team heads to Miami to take on the Dolphins. Miami has an extremely solid defense which in recent years has done a nice job of putting pressure on the quarterback and making Bledsoe’s life pretty difficult. The offensive line of the Patriots was able to keep the Colts defense off of Brady on Sunday, but they may have a more difficult time in doing so this weekend. How well Brady is able to deal with that may be a better way to measure how much of the team’s success truly falls upon his shoulders.

Quite a few people were disappointed that former Patriot QB Michael Bishop never had an opportunity to show what he could do against 1st-string players, but for those fans who felt that way, Brady is getting just that. After two or three games they may finally find out if there is a reason to consider whether or not to believe that Brady could even remotely be a possible alternative to Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe has already proven himself with what he has accomplished during his nine-year career with New England. Brady has been the Patriots starting quarterback for just nine days.

Belichick may have failed to put the fire out as far as any speculation is concerned, but now it’s up to Brady to keep it burning. Belichick has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to make a quarterback change if he feels it’s absolutely necessary, but it will probably take more than one game to convince him that it’s really the right thing to do.

And it should also take more than one game to convince everyone else as well.


THE LATEST FROM PATSFANS.COM: