Does Super Bowl loss hurt legacy? Maybe not for Brady, but Belichick…
By Geoff Preston
It is the dialogue of the modern day NFL: the coach is always paired with the Quarterback as the sole determinants of success or failure. Even though history has disproved this theory multiple times, we are bombarded with evidence that teams consisting of 55 players and countless numbers of coaches will win or lose because of one player and one coach.
You know what though? I’ll have some fun with it. I’ll succumb to the intellectual laziness of ESPN and other networks and talk only about the quarterback and head coach. Today, we’ll focus on the losing tandem, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Tom Brady’s legacy is cemented, especially because of what he did this season. Make no mistake about it; the New England Patriots vastly over-achieved this season. A team with 18 undrafted free agents has no business even thinking about a Super bowl bid. A team with the 31st best defense shouldn’t entertain the notion of post-season success. That falls on Tom Brady. The 2011 Patriots were the closest thing to a one man team we have seen in the Brady era. It wasn’t just the 5,000 plus passing yards in the regular season. If his receivers made a couple of catches in the Super Bowl we would be having a different conversation today. These two losses in four years to the Giants should not hurt the way we perceive Tom Brady.
Bill Belichick, on the other hand, is a different story. Let’s call it like it is: the hoodie has lost a step. Being dubbed a “defensive genius” earlier in the decade created the foundation for all Patriots fans’ arguments in support of Belichick and his Krispy Kreme defense. “It’s Belichick! He’ll figure it out!” They would all scream in unison, like Belichick knew something about football that no one else in the league did. Here is the reality: yes, he is Bill Belichick. But no, he did not figure it out. The defense played all season the way you would expect a defensive whose secondary was mostly unemployed last season would play. The 31st best defense may have only given up 21 points, but it still allowed Eli Manning to complete 75 percent of his passes. And here is the most important point: when the game needed to be won with a stop, the hoodie and the Patriots defense couldn’t do it.
Bill Belichick has a certain style of coaching, but also of roster building. He is one of the last coach-GM combos in the NFL, and maybe he should be the last. The Patriots lacked the very thing all great rosters have: depth. Eighteen of their players were not drafted into the NFL. If we learned one thing from the Super Bowl, it is that while Bill Belichick is still an elite coach in the league, his mere existence does not guarantee the Patriots anything. Sorry, Pats fans.