Tom Brady has added to his already incredible legacy this postseason, winning three road games to lead the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2002 in his first year with the team. It will be Brady’s 10th career Super Bowl appearance, which is twice as many as any other quarterback in history.
While this season has obviously only helped Brady’s legacy, there’s some debate about whether it has hurt Bill Belichick’s. An argument could be made that Brady’s success this year without Belichick, combined with the Patriots’ struggles this season without Brady, shows once and for all that the Patriots’ success over the last 20 years had a lot more to do with Brady than Belichick.
Making his weekly appearance on The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, CBS analyst and WFAN host Boomer Esiason said he doesn’t quite agree with that sentiment.
“I don’t think it diminishes Bill in any way, shape or form in my eyes,” Esiason said. “I mean, Tom Brady went to a great team. When you see that team on the field and you see all the plays that they’re making, especially on defense -- the defense really came together for them late in the year -- you realize that he picked the right team.
“I figured the only other team that maybe he would’ve gone to would’ve been Indianapolis, and maybe Indianapolis would be in the Super Bowl. But then they would’ve had to get over Kansas City, which would’ve been a much tougher situation for Tom, on any team in the AFC. He picked the right team, he picked the right coach, and I think all those players are showing themselves.”
Esiason went on to acknowledge that it might diminish Belichick a little just in the sense that Brady has probably shown that having a great quarterback is more important than having a great coach, but he said he still believes it takes both to have the kind of sustained success the Patriots had year after year.
He also pointed out that Sunday’s games offered examples of the kinds of mistakes Belichick usually avoids in big games, such as Packers coach Matt LaFleur settling for a field goal late and giving the ball back to Brady instead of putting the ball in Aaron Rodgers’ hands on fourth down, or Bills coach Sean McDermott settling for field goals in the second half when that clearly wasn’t going to be enough to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
“It’s a hard job. And it’s a hard job to realize where you are in the game and how you respond to that,” Esiason said. “That’s one of Bill Belichick’s greatest attributes as a coach, is managing the game while the game is going on, and understanding what exactly is happening.
“That’s why if you throw this year out for Bill Belichick and look back on some of the decisions he’s made, whether it’s to go for it on fourth-and-one in certain situations or kick a field goal or to let the opposing team score or take a safety, all those types of things that he has done in games is amazing. Now I think a lot of that may be him and Ernie Adams talking during the game and understanding the situations. But a lot of these coaches do make bonehead moves.”