On second thought. . .maybe Bill Belichick is winning this divorce with Tom Brady after all.
Brady might get Tampa Bay into the playoffs and Belichick might not get New England there, but which one is having the better season? Whose legacy is improving?
The Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams tonight, and if they win, they’ll be firmly back in the playoff race. Belichick thought he had a quarterback in Cam Newton, but it turns out Newton can’t throw straight anymore. So it took a few weeks, but Belichick has figured out how to win with what he has. The Patriots have won four of their past five games. They beat the Chargers 45-0 last week, even though Newton threw for just 69 yards.
That seems impossible.
Brady, meanwhile, has lost three of four. He left Belichick and New England to prove he could stand on his own, which should’ve been warning enough for us. Brady has been universally accepted as the greatest player of all time, yet he still felt underappreciated. We should have been able to figure out that he would come off as a whiny prima donna, blaming everything on everyone else, not shaking hands with opposing quarterbacks who beat him if he doesn’t think they’re at his level.
I mean, Tampa gave him everything he asked for, including Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski.
And it’s true that Brady and coach Bruce Arians are not a good fit. Arians likes to push the ball downfield, and Brady isn’t accurate enough throwing deep. Belichick and the Patriot Way protected Brady from that and kept him from having to move much in the pocket.
Still, I get why Arians has been so critical of Brady. Brady is like a cocky kid who gets everything he wants and then still isn’t happy.
At least Belichick never bothered to pretend to be likable.
To be fair, he has done his share of whining this year, too. A few weeks ago when Brady was crushing him in this divorce, Belichick said on WEEI radio in Boston: “We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in an AFC Championship Game. This year, we have less to work with. It’s not an excuse.’’
It was an excuse. His point was that the Patriots, by going for it every year, would inevitably have a comeuppance under the salary cap. That day, he whined, had come. His implication: This isn’t my fault.
But now, Belichick is figuring out how to win with Newton. The Patriot Way is suddenly working again, this time with a quarterback who can run but can’t throw.
The Patriots were 2-5, having lost the GOAT and several defensive players who opted out in fear of COVID. Now they’re 6-6. By contrast, I sit here in Chicago where the Bears started 5-1 and are now 5-7. Matt Nagy, Coach of the Year in 2018, keeps stubbornly sticking to his style and ideas even though they don’t fit his personnel.
That is the coach’s job, to make the most of his players.
A few weeks ago, FoxSports’ Colin Cowherd said Belichick should leave New England, that jobs would be available for him. Of course they would with all those Super Bowls on his resume. But I don’t know. I never even thought of that. It just seems like Belichick is the Patriots, and the Patriots are Belichick.
But if he’s actually willing to leave. . .Chicago is a great town. Of course, we’d take a GOAT in his mid-40s, too.