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New England Patriots > Patriots Blog > 2001 Patriots Season

Belichick May Be Trying To Protect #11

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
20 years ago at 8:00 am ET
Posted Under: 2001 Patriots Season

FOXBORO, MA — While the majority of Patriot Nation jumps to conclusions over head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to name second-year quarterback as the starter for the remainder of the season, they’ll need to try and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Belichick is not a stupid man, despite all those who will have you believe differently. They’ll point to his record in Cleveland saying that he got them to the playoffs only to be fired after the following season when the team finished with a 5-11 record. They’ll point to his below .500 record with the Browns, yet forget the fact that the team quit not on him, but on owner Art Modell who decided to steal the team from the loyal Cleveland fans who packed the stadium every Sunday.

As a matter of fact, they’ll point to his 36-44 record with Cleveland, but prior to his final season he was 31-33 with his team a favorite to compete for a championship that year. However following the announcement of the team relocating to Baltimore they finished 5-11. Had they even finished 8-8 that season he leaves with about a .500 record.

Not great, but better than a lot of coaches can say they have.

Needless to say there may be a little evidence that the man may know what he is doing. He took a major risk in deciding to go with Brady for the remainder of the season on Tuesday, but it may not have been done with the intention of stating he has any doubt in former starter Drew Bledsoe’s ability to win. It may have simply been done to protect him.

While Belichick will always be the first to admit he is not a doctor, anyone who has seen Bledsoe in person the past few weeks will say he still looks like someone who just left a hospital. While the Patriots quarterback has said in regards to the 20-pounds he lost that it was “weight he didn’t need anyway”, there’s no question that Belichick may still have doubts about whether or not he should put him in harms way.

It may not be about who he feels is a better player, because Belichick is wise enough to know that Brady has far from shown he may or may not have been a one-year-wonder. He has a record of 5-3 thus far during his brief tenure as the team’s starting quarterback, but his performances in recent weeks haven’t exactly been stellar. But the point may be he’s good enough to compete in the NFL which may be enough to get them a chance to either make, or come close to making the playoffs with him at the helm.

When you’re a coach in the NFL, especially a new one for that matter, the point is to try and improve each season. Belichick is one win away from improving on the 5-11 record his team had last year, and one would believe he’ll win probably a couple more than that. With the money they have invested in Bledsoe he may have simply decided that he could have the best of both worlds. He could possibly either make or come close to getting to the post season with Brady, and then have Bledsoe back at 100% for next season and get a good deal for Brady in a trade during the offseason.

Whether or not Belichick made the decision based on trying to protect Bledsoe from further harm will only be known by Belichick himself. If it was done because he honestly felt that Brady was the best choice long-term solution, (especially by basing it on a mere eight games) then that may a different story. For now it may be a good idea to give Belichick the benefit of the doubt and wonder if there may have been another reason behind it.

Before fans snap to judgement, they may want to remember it’s better to have Bledsoe back fully healthy than to have back a player who has simply been “medically cleared” to play. Belichick is wise enough to know what he has in his franchise quarterback, so they may want to give him the benefit of the doubt before they try and second-guess his decision.


Posted Under: 2001 Patriots Season


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