The Patriots have been the definition of success in the NFL for the past two decades. The duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has helped win six super bowls, sixteen division titles, and reach nine super bowls. Simply put, the Patriots have been a dynasty for nineteen years now. They are often referred to as the “GOAT” duo, meaning the greatest head coach and quarterback duo in the history of the NFL. This dynasty, however, may reach its end in the coming offseason.
After an early playoff exit and a poor season from Tom Brady, many analysts speculate that Brady may leave the Patriots. First off, it is important to address why Brady may leave. Brady was visibly upset with the weapons provided to him this year from coach and GM Bill Belichick. In one video, he is seen yelling at his receivers, saying that they need to be “faster, quicker, and more explosive.” Brady was right to be frustrated with his receivers this year. Rob Gronkowski’s retirement left a hole at tight-end, which was filled by a 39 year old Ben Watson, who was cut before the season started, then later picked back up after his four game suspension ended. The receiving core started off strong, consisting of healthy Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. Antonio Brown then debuted in week 2 against the Dolphins, catching a touchdown in his only game with the team. After week 2, things spiraled out of control for the offense. Edelman and Gordon both sustained injuries throughout the season, and Gordon was later released by the Patriots. A sexual assault case took Antonio Brown out of the NFL before he could play a second game with the team. By the end of the year, the receiving core was reduced to a banged up Julian Edelman, two rookies, and Phillip Dorsett. If the weapons provided to Brady are not better next season, it is entirely plausible that Brady may test his options in free agency.
The decision may not be entirely up to Tom Brady. Bill Belichick and Brady have had their differences in the past, stemming from issues with offensive coordinators, to disagreements between Brady’s trusted trainer, Alex Guerrero, and Belichick. Tom Brady’s decline in recent years is obvious, and Belichick may be ready to move on. In fact, he was a couple of years ago. Belichick selected Jimmy Garopollo in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft. It was assumed that he would be the succession plan to Brady. Brady, however, asked for Garopollo to be traded, and owner Robert Kraft made sure it was done. Garopollo is now the starting quarterback for the 49ers, who went 13-3 this year. If Belichick was willing to replace Brady six years ago, when Brady was still in his prime, he is surely ready to replace him now. Brady posted his worst passer rating since 2006 and the offense struggled greatly, giving Belichick a reason to replace the 42 year old.
It remains to be seen whether Brady will part ways with the Patriots, or if Belichick will decide to end it. No matter what happens, the duo of Brady and Belichick will be remembered as one of, if not the greatest dynasties of all time, and it will be interesting to see if they can have success apart from each other.
Graphic: Nicole Kye