Back in 2001, Bill Belichick went with the hot hand and it carried him to a Super Bowl victory when Tom Brady pulled the starting job right out from underneath then-quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
At the time, Belichick made the decision to stick with Brady when Bledsoe was finally healthy after the veteran had been sidelined following the hit he suffered against the Jets that knocked him out of action and essentially ended his career here as the starting QB. It was one of the most polarizing moments during Belichick’s short tenure as head coach, but one that, as we’ve since learned, ultimately changed history here in New England.
But if anyone thinks that Jimmy Garoppolo will play Brady out of a shot at stepping back into the starting role in week 5 out in Cleveland, Belichick made it a point to eliminate that idea when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.
“We have finally some definition with Tom [Brady’s] situation, so our priority now then is to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the start of the season, for the Arizona game,” Belichick told reporters. “So that’ll be obviously a comprehensive process.”
“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back, but in the meantime we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that’ll be to get Jimmy ready to go. That’s pretty much where we are for today. It’ll be a day-by-day, step-by-step process.”
It will likely be a frustrating month for Brady, who will start 2016 banished from his teammates.
With camp set to begin, the preparation for the 2016 season is now underway and the most important thing in Belichick’s mind is to ensure that they’re able to make the best of this situation. One thing he pointed out was that unlike many teams who don’t necessarily have good depth at the position, he believes that his team is in great shape as they have Brady, Garoppolo, and rookie Jacoby Brissett on the roster.
“We’ll just let it go and see how it goes,” said Belichick. “I think we have a good situation. We have three players we want to work with. Look, in some other years I’ve seen teams that probably don’t feel like they have anybody, or maybe they have one. I think we’re in a good situation. We’ll just see how it plays out.”
It will be a tough situation for Brady, who will likely find himself having to sit back and watch Garoppolo take more of the reps with the first team in practice given that he won’t be under center until the second Sunday in October. It’s bad enough he’s had to deal with the frustration of the legal process which ultimately put him in this position. Now he’s left with not even having the luxury of having football to keep his mind off of it.
That will likely be one of the more frustrating points of this process for the veteran quarterback, who will be forced to stay away from his teammates over the first four weeks of 2016. He won’t be able to workout with them, even privately, or have any contact with the coaching staff. He’ll be forced for the second time in his career to have to watch another player line up under center in his place, although this time, unlike when he was injured and lost an entire season, he’ll at least take some solace in knowing that he’ll eventually be able to get back out there.
Belichick obviously is behind him, but he’s now left with trying to make sure they’re prepared to make the best of Brady’s absence. Now that the outcome has been determined, Belichick said they’ll make the best of the situation until Brady is able to return and it’s time to get to work to make sure they’re prepared to weather it until he comes back.
“Well, really I never dealt with it until I would say the decision has been made that looks like, ‘This is what it’s going to be.’ It’s been in some version of litigation, appeal, appeal depending on how the litigation goes,” said Belichick while referring to Brady’s legal situation. “It’s been in the same place for a year and a half, basically. There’s definition to it now. We’ll move forward based on that definition.”
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