No GOAT, No Problem

by Christian Bateman

Four reasons why the Patriots will win without Tom Brady

On March 14, 2020, Tom Brady stated on social media he will not be returning to New England for the 2020 NFL season. A day later, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFC. As shock spreads across Patriots Nation, one thing has become clear: it is hard to imagine a 21st century Patriot team without the GOAT under center. Though the upcoming NFL season will feel completely unfamiliar to most Patriots fans, it may very well be a season Patriots Nation will never forget. Here are four reasons the Patriots dynasty will continue without the GOAT.

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Bill Belichick

The Patriots may have lost the face of their franchise, yet one key figure remains: Bill Belichick. Widely regarded as the greatest coach of all time, Belichick holds eight Super Bowl rings, two of which he won as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. It is simple, Belichick simply wins football games. Even in the 2008 NFL Season, when Tom Brady was on the injured reserves for nearly the full year, Belichick managed to lead the team to a solid record of 11-5, barely missing the playoffs. Belichick did this under a former 7th round selection, quarterback Matt Cassel, who had not started a single game in his collegiate or NFL career. In addition, the Patriots had tremendous success at the start of the 2016 NFL season without Tom Brady when he served a four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate. During this stretch, the Patriots went 3-1 with former second-round pick Jimmy Garappolo under center, as well as rookie Jacoby Brisset. There is no doubt that Bill Belichick can win football games with or without TB12.

The Coaching Staff

The Patriots also feature one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the NFL. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is widely regarded as one of the most successful offensive coordinators in NFL history. McDaniels has proved he can effectively employ a variety of offensive schemes to suit whoever is under center. McDaniel showcased his schematic flexibility in the 2008 and 2016 NFL seasons, maintaining New England’s success despite Brady’s absence. The 2020 Patriots’ coaching staff will also feature younger coaches for the defense, including linebacker coach, Jerod Mayo, and safeties coach, Stephen Belichick. Furthermore, they have a unique ability to turn a late-round pick or undrafted free agent into an NFL superstar, a differentiating factor in their sustained success. The coaching staff is and will remain outstanding for years to come.

The Defense

The New England Patriots’ defense had a historic season in 2019. There is no doubt that the defense will remain the Patriots’ strength in the upcoming year. This past season, Bill Belichick’s decision to resume as defensive coordinator paid off. Anchored by superstar cornerback Stephen Gilmore, the Patriot’s defense ranked 1st in the NFL, dominating game after game. The Patriots’ ability to get to the pass rusher and create key takeaways will remain the key to their winning ways next season. In recent weeks, it is clear that the team has made a significant effort to keep their lockdown defense together, re-signing free safety Devin McCourty to a 2 year, 23 million dollar contract in addition to defensive end Shilique Calhoun to a 1 year, 1.5 million dollar deal. With several middle round draft picks including 4 third-round picks, the Patriots will hope to maintain their defensive success by replacing players lost to free agency including premier linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. The Patriots always have and always will find a way to replace key players with new additions. Fans can once again expect a lockdown defense in 2020.

Jarret Stidham

Though Tom Brady’s level of leadership and clutch performance is irreplaceable, the Patriots have a variety of options at the quarterback position going forward. The 2020 class of free-agent quarterbacks is exceptional. A few names remain on the market including Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, and Marcus Mariota. However, these passers do not fit into the Patriots’ scheme and come at a cost that Belichick has historically been unwilling to pay. It is more likely that the Patriots will look within the franchise instead. The Patriots have made it clear that they are very keen on playing fourth-round draft pick Jarret Stidham. However, according to ESPN insider Todd McShay, those within the Patriots organization see his potential but do not believe he is ready to start. The most likely option is that the Patriots will lean on veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, having signed him to a 1-year deal this past March, which is his third stint in New England. That being said, Stidham shows tremendous potential and may very well produce countless numbers of wins in years to come.