After 6 Super Bowl Titles, 9 Super Bowl Appearances, 30 playoff wins, 13 bye weeks, 219 regular season wins, and 16 AFC East Division titles in a 20-year dynasty.
The most dominant player-coach duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has officially come to a close.
“My football journey will take place elsewhere,” Brady stated on a March 17 Instagram post, evidently referring to Tampa Bay and the Buccaneers.
Brady, entering his age 43 season, 21st of his career, has officially closed the door on the NFL’s greatest all-time dynasty with the New England Patriots.
This two-decade run of absolute dominance reaches its end shortly after what all thought would be one perhaps the most dominant single-seasons with the dynasty itself.
A week 1 through 7 stretch in which the Patriots offense would average 34.5 points per game while being rewarded with a defense allowing just 6.3 points to opponents. It would appear all was looking normal in Foxborough.
Yet this wouldn’t last with New England’s completion quality increasing in the following stretch, Brady and Belichick would combat for an offense averaging 21.8 points- a 12.7 dip.
However, the shift didn’t end there, with opponents such as Baltimore, Houston, and Kansas City- giving the Pats defense noteworthy issues, increasing New England’s opponents scoring average to 19.6 in weeks 8 through 17.
All in all which led us to the dreadful January night which would be the final we’d all witness Tom Brady in a New England Patriots uniform.
A flawed defense with a then extremely exploited offense, to say the least, jointed in a shortcoming effort to a Tennessee Titans team who would go on to shock the NFL by putting an end to the record-setting Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens offense.
5) Deflate-Gate Support
In 2015, the New England Patriots followed their 12-4 regular season with an AFC Championship game appearance against the Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts.
Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 year, clinching the AFC South, and eventually a ticket to Foxborough. This takes us to January 18, 2015, where Tom Brady and New England absolutely bulldozed through Chuck Pagano’s 19th ranked NFL defense.
Brady would convert 12 of 18 third downs to Luck’s three of 11. Evidently leading to a not so close 45-7 victory which ultimately led to New England’s fourth Super Bowl win over Seattle, an infamous Malcolm Butler pick, and plenty of post-game Richard Sherman memes.
However, unfortunately, things took a downward trend as Brady and the Patriots were then linked to the extremely controversial Deflate-Gate investigation which following a second trial, sat Tom Brady with a 4-game suspension to kick off the following season.
According to sources close to Brady, the Pats quarterback felt left out to dry by head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, all following Brady’s strict defense for the two during the 2007 spy gate investigation in which the Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping defensive signals during a September New York Jets game.
4) Super Bowl 52 (LII)
Next up, also involving former cornerback Malcolm Butler, is Super Bowl 52. The animosity between Brady and Belichick was looming Gillette Stadium due to the Deflate-Gate aftermath and effects.
Nevertheless, Brady and Belichick managed to put aside their off-field differences which led to their third Super Bowl appearance in four years, against Doug Pederson, Nick Foles, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Finishing 13-3 on the season and earning a bye week, leading to New England’s 24-20 AFC Title over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady and Belichick seized and opportunity to add yet another Lombardi Trophy to the collection.
Unfortunately, the ultimate detrimental factor which led to 41 Eagles points scored was a poor showing of New England’s defense. One coming without a single minute of appearance made by former Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler.
A last-second decision according to sources, which added a setback and overshadowed Brady’s record-setting outing for any Super Bowl losing quarterback. Brady went 27-for-48, throwing for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns. All for his defense to let up 40+ in one of the biggest questions yet to be answered regarding the Super Bowl overall.
Why was Butler benched?
3) Jimmy G
Following the Deflate-Gate issued suspension handed to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick was left to kick off the 2016 season with Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback.
It’d only be weeks one and two in which we saw Garoppolo who would go on to suffer a shoulder injury in just the second quarter of week two against the Miami Dolphins. Yet Garoppolo managed to leave a good impression in his 2016 stint from both the fans and more importantly head coach Bill Belichick, who became increasingly reluctant to give in on a trade involving Jimmy G and fully committing to Tom Brady for years to come down the line.
In 2016 as a starter, Garoppolo would throw 43 completions in 63 attempts for 502 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions, notching a 113.3 QB rating.
A disagreement which only added fuel to an already sparked fire between Brady and Belichick, reports from outlets such as Bleacher Report and Business Insider all highlighted Belichick’s displeasure with being “ordered” to trade Garoppolo and stand by Brady.
2) Gronkowski Retirement Response
Another major and more recent factor that played into the breakup buildup is New England’s post-Rob Gronkowski retirement response in providing Brady with a suitable Pats worthy offensive weapons core in order to make it through 16 weeks and playoffs.
On March 24, 2019, Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the sport of football, ultimately ending on a high note with the Patriots defeating the Rams 13-3 and seizing their franchise’s sixth Super Bowl title.
With Gronk saying goodbye to football, the Patriots and Tom Brady, it was up to New England and Bill Belichick to seek out the next in line weaponry needed to fill the void left by Gronk’s departure.
Unfortunately, that plan wouldn’t fall into fruition which leads us to our final factor.
1) The 2020 Breaking Point
A follow up to Gronk’s post-retirement plan or lack thereof is the buildup that was Brady’s 2020 breaking point.
To wrap up what was a very underwhelming 2019 offseason which included a signing then release of Demaryius Thomas until late September, the Pats pulled a blockbusting trigger in signing wide receiver Antonio Brown instantly after forcing a release from the Oakland Raiders.
Unfortunately what appeared to be at first a super-team season to be remembered for the making in New England was a soon-to-be dumpster fire developing just following both Brown’s release from New England and the increasingly competitive weeks down the line.
As a late minute shot in the dark from Bill Belichick, the Pats would acquire Mohamed Sanu in October of 2019 via trade with the Atlanta Falcons. A very far from prime Sanu would be anything but a positive factor in New England’s offense, serving more of a detriment when needed the most than anything.
All in all leading to that Wild Card elimination and ultimately Tom Brady currently in Tampa Bay Buccaneer threads.