Before the start of the 2020 NFL season, there may have not been a debate more polarizing than the question of who is more responsible for the New England Patriots’ dynasty: head coach/general manager Bill Belichick or quarterback Tom Brady.
Outside of Brady's four-game suspension in 2016 and the entire 2008 season Brady missed due to a torn ACL, the duo had spent the past 20 years working in tandem. Belichick had the 11-5 season with Matt Cassel in his favor, with Brady set to embark on his own for the first time in 2020 with Tampa Bay.
Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in his first year with the Buccaneers would appear to tip the scales in Brady's favor. The GOAT was once again excellent, winning a seventh ring at age 43. And it's worth noting that during his legendary run in New England, Brady was willing to take on team-friendly deals that helped the organization add talent. TB12 certainly did everything in his power to make the Patriots an annual lock to reach the AFC Championship Game.
New England obviously fared poorly in Year 1 without Brady, finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Still, relying on one season versus an entire 20-year run of the greatest head coach-quarterback duo is oversimplifying the situation. Brady's season couldn't have gone much better or Belichick's arguably much worse, but 2020 was one of the more unpredictable seasons for every franchise.
Belichick's body of work suggests that he might not have fallen as far behind in this debate as some might think.
2020 SEASON IN REVIEW
Football fans will be quick to point out what went wrong for the Patriots in 2020: The downgrade at quarterback from Brady to Cam Newton was the main reason why the offense/team failed in 2020. There are elements to that statement that are true, as the Newton-led Patriots ranked 25th in offensive points per game (13.3).
But the narrative is slightly misleading because the offense was almost identical, if not better, from an efficiency standpoint when compared to the 2019 Brady-led Patriots.