Patriots: Here’s what Bill Belichick can learn from Tom Brady’s Super Bowl run with Bucs

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 03: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 03: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Tom Brady appears to be winning his divorce from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. While we hate the debate as much as anyone, Brady making it to the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first season away from Foxborough as the Patriots limped to a 7-9 finish in 2020 is a really telling turn of events.

Yes, head coach Bill Belichick remains the greatest ever to do it, but he might have difficulty navigating the post-Brady landscape in New England. Why? His “Patriot Way” creed appeared to start breaking at the seams without No. 12 under center.

The opt outs and lack of talent didn’t help, but it’s clear the system, in some way, shape or form, regressed without TB12.

Belichick needs to learn from head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht because what they’ve done in Tampa could help benefit New England if their principles are applied the right way.

Belichick needs to work on these three things if he wants to succeed without Brady

3. Be more cavalier in the passing game

While Brady isn’t the best deep passer in the world, evidenced by his cold streak in the middle of the season and the three second-half picks against Green Bay, he is clearly comfortable going downfield as frequently as Arians and Byron Leftwich ask him to. Belichick and Josh McDaniels, meanwhile, took a quarterback with tremendous arm talent in Cam Newton and clipped his wings.

Belichick is a disciple of Bill Parcells’s Erhardt-Perkins offense, which prioritizes controlling possession with a strong running game. However, the offense also dictates that the play-action passing game should be meant to challenge defenses down the field, and Belichick and McDaniels seem scared of taking risks like that. A more open offense could help New England get back to the postseason.

2. Prioritize the wide receiver position

Brady’s success throwing the ball in Tampa has been helped out by one of the most dominant groups of wideouts this league has seen in some time. Mike Evans remains one of the premier possession receivers in football, while Chris Godwin’s speed and electric running style are going to get him paid this offseason. Even the controversial Antonio Brown was making plays as a tertiary target in Tampa before his injury.

Belichick’s struggles with drafting wide receivers are well documented, but his shortcomings with trades for star receivers or luring them over in free agency has left the cupboard increasingly bare in that department. He needs to improve the talent on the perimeter for the Patriots to stand a chance in a crowded AFC.

1. Don’t be as stubborn or rigid in the locker room

Anyone who thinks that Brady and Brady alone was the reason Tampa Bay is in the Super Bowl needs to take off the rose-colored glasses. Tampa Bay was 7-9 with Jameis Winston throwing 30 interceptions, a testament to how deep this team is. While good drafting played a part in that, as did Tampa’s geography, Brady’s arrival made the Buccaneers a free-agent destination.

And, of course, we can’t rule out Arians’ coaching style, which gives players, specifically the quarterback, more freedom to give their input and possess a sort of coaching role.

Massachusetts is the exact opposite of a free-agent destination, and playing under the iron fist of Belichick might not be as attractive to some of the better players in the league. With the aura of Brady guaranteeing postseason success now no longer helping woo players to come over to Foxborough, Belichick could find it hard to get top free agents to come to New England unless he lets go of the reins just a bit.

Come on, Bill, let’s get a new-school version of the Patriot Way to attract more studs this offseason!