There’s no secret that what Tom Brady is doing is something for the ages, with the 43-year old defying the odds with a surprising win out in Green Bay on Sunday to knock off the Packers and advance to his 10th Super Bowl.
Brady moves on as his former club has already seen its season come to an end nearly a month ago, with head coach Bill Belichick heading into 2021 with the dilemma of replacing a player who will be in the mix for another Lombardi trophy in two weeks. Albeit, this time, without him.
Obviously, everything has to end. Moving on from Brady needed to happen eventually, but the fact New England put Brady in the position to have to move on without a viable replacement is the part that will potentially go down as one of the more frustrating decisions in team history.
Looking back, the other greats were forced out because they had guys waiting in the wings. Joe Montana had Steve Young. Brett Favre had Aaron Rodgers. You don’t move on from a player like that if they can still perform at a high level without a replacement because guys who can come up big in key moments are just so rare.
As we know, Brady was the one who left, as he wasn’t let go or traded. Some will say, it’s Brady’s fault because he was looking to get paid and that it was a selfish move. In reality, all indications seem to point to the fact he wanted some sort of a commitment in the form of a multi-year deal and Belichick wanted to go year-to-year, afraid of the eventual dropoff that typically comes with most older quarterbacks.
That’s not an assumption. NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran has reported that on multiple occasions and reiterated it again on Sunday. Brady didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay, but things reached a point where Belichick apparently had doubts.
Belichick even seemed to think he could force Brady’s hand because, according to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, Belichick was “a little shocked” when he heard Brady’s eventual decision to leave. But given everything we saw in 2019 when there was clearly some tension and the signs were there, Brady seemingly didn’t feel wanted and he made the decision that offseason to go to Tampa.
Clearly, it was a good move. He’s made history after leading the Buccaneers to the NFL’s first-ever home Super Bowl and he’s been the same player he’s been the last 4-5 years.
But the frustrating part of Belichick reaching that decision is just the fact it simply doesn’t make any sense and 2020 simply exacerbates that.
Why? Because Brady hasn’t shown any drop off both in his performance, but most importantly, in his day-to-day efforts and preparation. He’s someone who has led by example and is the model for how everyone wishes every player would prepare. You want someone who works that hard and pushes everyone around him. But even better, you want someone who walks-the-walk on the field.
That being said, that’s why New England’s decision makes so little sense. Sure, they were worried about getting caught with a sudden drop-off by Brady, but what’s crazy is the fact they did this without a succession plan. The first time they came close and potentially had one, it was simply a matter of bad timing. Brady was still going strong and so they were forced to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo.
It was the right decision, and they have the Lombardi trophies to prove it.
Since then, they haven’t found a viable replacement. They drafted Jarrett Stidham in the fourth-round of 2019 and brought in Cam Newton this past offseason. Unfortunately, the gamble on the former league MVP didn’t work out after the Patriots finished with a frustrating 7-9 season. Newton spoke each week on his progress and said all the right things, but he left them waiting on an improvement on the offensive side of the football that just never came.
To make matters worse, Stidham seemingly fell out of favor with a coaching staff that refused to start him even after they were out of playoff contention. That move speaks volumes and tells you that they don’t believe he’s a viable starter. Brian Hoyer’s lone start rightfully saw him plummet down the depth chart after that outing, so it’s clear he’s not the stop-gap player they can count on either.
As a result, they clearly don’t have anyone on the roster at quarterback they believe in to start in 2021.
That’s what makes this part frustrating. Keeping Brady would have at least bought them additional time to build some depth behind him. If he eventually dropped off, the worst-case scenario would have simply been what happened this season, but at least they would have possibly had a Matt Cassel-esque player they could have developed.
Instead, they come out of 2020 with essentially a wasted season. They didn’t develop anyone and they don’t have an answer. They’re essentially right back where they started.
Meanwhile, the asset they could have kept by just committing more than one season to him just rubbed a little salt in the wound and won another conference championship.
It’s unfortunate and it’s too bad that the team that took a gamble on him when they drafted him didn’t want to gamble on him until the end. The move was very un-Belichickian. While he’s a guy who, as we know, wants to move on from a player too early than too late, usually he at least had a plan to replace him. With Brady, that wasn’t the case, and that’s why it’s just strange that he wasn’t willing to at least take a gamble on another couple of years to at least give him time to plan for the future.
For now, that will again be the focus in the weeks and months ahead. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. Drafting a quarterback who can eventually play at a high level is difficult enough in the NFL and the fact they’ll need to do that and try and potentially find another veteran retread to get them through in the meantime is maddening. Anyone who doesn’t believe that Brady would, at the very least, not be better than any of those options is lying to themselves. The fact that they didn’t see that and weren’t willing to commit to him just doesn’t make any sense.
All we know is Brady is still playing at a high level and is on the verge of winning his 7th Super Bowl with a showdown against the Chiefs coming up in two weeks. Meanwhile, Belichick is left with the frustrating reality that getting back to that point now suddenly feels that much farther away.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Brian Hoyer Cam Newton Jimmy Garoppolo New England Patriots Super Bowl Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady