By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not surprising at all that football fans outside of New England would use the Patriots’ early-season success without Tom Brady to discredit the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback’s accomplishments. But even for a subset of fans that are at best lying to themselves and at worst horribly uneducated, misinformed trolls, this is embarrassing for NFL fans in general.
Look, if you want to say that Brady wouldn’t have four Super Bowls if he played with a different coach, that’s a fair take. But that’s true for any quarterback with as much hardware as Brady. No quarterback does it by themselves. Any quarterback needs a great coach and system to win as many as four Super Bowl rings. Joe Montana had Bill Walsh, Terry Bradshaw had Chuck Noll, Troy Aikman had Jimmy Johnson, and they all had great teams around them. But there have been a lot of quarterbacks who have had all that around them and not won as much as those guys, and that’s why the aforementioned names are among the greats at the position.
Bill Belichick obviously has a great system in place in all three phases of the game. He knows how to get the most out of the players he has, maximize their strengths, and minimize their weaknesses. He is good enough to find ways to win games with just about any NFL quarterback, making bad QBs like Matt Cassel look decent and taking a rookie like Jacoby Brissett on a short week and making him look like a serviceable veteran.
Insert Brady into the Belichick system and you get six Super Bowl appearances with four wins. You get record-setting win totals and passing numbers and an annual ticket to the AFC Championship Game penciled in by mid-August. Brady takes a great system and elevates it to being practically unstoppable. Belichick can clearly find ways to win without Brady, but it’s the combination of the two that makes them the perennial favorite in the AFC and four-time Super Bowl champion.
I can’t believe I still need to say that. But you still get takes like these …
Know less about football, you guys.
It’s unfathomable as a football fan to know that so many people watched the Patriots dismantle the Texans 27-0 Thursday night and think it would have been the same thing if Brady were in there. It would not have been the same … it might have been 55-0.
Some facts from Thursday night … The Patriots had 282 total yards of offense. Ninety-seven net pass yards. Jacoby Brissett was 11-of-19 with 103 passing yards, ran the ball eight times, and scored his only touchdown on a quarterback keeper. Their first two touchdowns were on short fields thanks to fumble recoveries by the Patriots special teams unit. The Patriots generally ran more of a college-style offense and punted the ball seven times.
Yet people watch that and say it’s the same exact thing as Brady. Again, you couldn’t know less about the Patriots (or football, really) if that’s what you seriously believe. The Patriots would not have punted seven times with Brady on the field. The way Houston played last night, the Patriots would have had a shot to hang 50+ on them if they had Brady running the offense and a full-strength Rob Gronkowski.
When Brady returns in Week 5, perhaps fans will see the difference. The same kind of difference that drops the Patriots by five wins and 150+ points going from Brady to Cassel. The same kind of difference that has the Patriots winning with QB keepers, field position, and 108 passing yards instead of Brady going for 300+ and ripping the opponents’ hearts out and eating them.
The “system quarterback” takes might never go away, because there will always be fans who want to tear down what the Patriots have done under Belichick and (mostly) Brady driving the team. But if you’re sticking to the take today, and plan on sticking to it even after Brady returns and lights it up, you’re just not using your eyes. Certainly not your brain.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.