Couch: With Tom Brady In The Super Bowl, Bill Belichick Plots His Revenge

And then Tom Brady advanced to the Super Bowl, killing the evil wizard Bill Belichick, and everyone lived happily ever after. The End.

If that’s how you think this ends, then you really are living in a fairy tale. It’s true that in all sports, half the fun of winning is the other guy losing. So the celebration of Brady has come with the side benefit of Belichick losing.

It is a delicious thing to think of Belichick stewing at home, watching Brady on TV and hearing nonstop how the narrative has changed from Brady being a product of Belichick’s genius to the other way around.

But moving forward, there are two uncomfortable and unfamiliar forces converging in the NFL: 

  1. In moving to Tampa Bay and bringing along friends and teammates, Brady might have followed LeBron James’ example in creating and assembling his own superteam. Now, jealous star quarterbacks are wanting to follow Brady’s example. They are looking to leave their teams, rather than building them, to construct their own Super Bowl. Such QBs include Deshaun Watson, Matt Stafford and maybe even Aaron Rodgers. The other force is this:
  1. While Belichick and the New England Patriots don’t have a quarterback, they do have a ton of room under the salary cap and also are loaded with early draft picks.

And keep in mind Tampa Bay plays New England next year, giving Belichick his first shot at redemption. His legacy surely doesn’t need it, but does his ego?

So you wonder what Belichick will do. Stafford has finally reached the end with the Detroit Lions. He paid his dues and asked to be traded. The Lions agreed.

This has to be the most tempting choice for Belichick. I mean, sure Watson is only 25 and is the biggest prize. But it’s hard to see how New England could compete with the New York Jets, who have the No. 2 pick in the draft, or the Miami Dolphins for the type of package it would take to give Houston for Watson. As for Rodgers, it’s possible he’s just angling for a multi-year guaranteed deal to stay at Green Bay, where they drafted his replacement in the first round last year. 

Stafford will turn 33 in less than two weeks, meaning he still has time left. And with all those early draft picks available to the Patriots, it seems as if it shouldn’t be hard to outbid Indianapolis for him.

That’s the route I would go, if I were Belichick. But is it really the smart play? And maybe more importantly, is Belichick, who will turn 69 in the offseason, going to make decisions based on what’s best for the long term of the Patriots or on what’s best for himself and his ego?

The Patriots have six picks in the first four rounds of the draft. And depending on what the salary cap ends up being, the Patriots should have between $55 million and $70 million of spending room.

Maybe the best thing for New England would be to draft a quarterback in the first round, trade off parts and start a rebuild. They went 7-9 this year and have plenty of needs. As Belichick said during the season, the Patriots sold out their future to hang on to their dynasty a little longer.

“I mean, it’s obvious that we didn’t have any money,’’ Belichick said on Boston’s WEEI radio this season. “It’s nobody’s fault.’’

Well, that was part fact, part excuse for the losing season in 2020. But whatever. The point is that the Patriots need a lot of help.

But will a 69-year-old Belichick watch Brady in the Super Bowl and then draft a quarterback in the first round and develop him for three years?

I doubt it. 

With all that cap space available, I look for Belichick to go for Stafford, not draft a quarterback of the future, and then use his remaining picks and get a few more free agents (Chicago receiver Allen Robinson?).

In doing that, Belichick could be selling out the future again. Stafford is a great talent, but he has spent 12 years with the Lions and never won a playoff game. He’s a loser. That’s not meant as an insult; it’s just what he knows. Constant losing changes a person.

And are we sure Belichick will still have his magic in landing free agents at low prices because they’re dying to go somewhere to win?

Rex Ryan, the former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach, said this on ESPN: “Nobody wanted to go to New England to be coached by Bill Belichick. They wanted to play with Tom Brady. . .Why? That’s why you’re going to win.’’

Belichick will hear plenty more like that every day until the Super Bowl.

This isn’t The End.

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

8 Comments

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    • Belichick was a two time super bowl winner as a key assistant coach for the Giants, who in one of those years stopped the high powered Bills. That game plan is in the football HOF. Prior to this year, he was the last Browns coach to win a playoff game. Let’s not pretend BB wasn’t great before we even knew who Tom Brady was.

  1. I’m neither a Brady or Belichick hater, and taking nothing away from either, here’s a few things about their dynamic: During Brady’s years as the Patriots QB, it’s not out of the question to say that during just about the entire time the AFC East was pretty much the worst division in all of the NFL. Brady never had more than 1, maybe 2 weapons worthy of being considered a considerable help to him. Now, the Patriots might end up with the worst talent within a few years. With that said, Belichick gets a mulligan this year in my book for one main reason…he’s a Defensive guy and he lost the most defensive starters to optouts before the season. Given that they’ll most likely all be back, with the cap space and draft picks, we’ll see how they fair in 2021. He still needs a quality QB though

    • The narrative that the AFC east is the worst division is a false one. The Patriots had something to do with beating the other teams in the division. The JETS, Dolphins and Bills actually made the playoffs a few times in the last 20 years. Can’t say that about every division.

  2. Grew up 10 miles from Foxboro and called the comeback against the Falcons (still have the text I sent to my son at 28-3). Patriots don’t win all those Super Bowls without Brady but they would have won at least one, maybe two with a decent qb, including the first one against the Rams. Brady was injured in the AFC championship against Pittsburgh, Bledsoe coming in and winning in Pittsburgh and there was some controversy in whether Brady or Bledsoe would start in the SB. Bledsoe was in his prime and would have probably won the first one. They had a great defense and a running game. Obviously the legend was born on the last drive but Brady was more of a manager then. Bledsoe or another decent qb could have won either Panthers or first Eagles SB.

    • Nice take Big E in MA. It’s always good to get the perspective of someone who sees/hears and reads local news than outsiders like myself. That’s why what happened with Kaepernick was so out of leftfield for those of us from Reno. I just moved from the area a few years ago, but I had Nevada season tickets and watched and listened to him for 4 years. With you living in the backyard of the Patriots, you would definitely get the real scoop before most of us

    • Brady wasn’t a game manager by the time they played the Panthers. A “game manager” is a silly term anyways, as the great QBs manage the game better than anyone else. You could see Brady becoming great against the Panthers.

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