Quite possibly the greatest quarterback/coach duo in the history of the league was broken up.
Tom Brady announced that he will not finish his career as a member of the New England Patriots, and instead will take his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It seems pretty obvious now after the fact, but over the last two years there were plenty of seeds planted indicating that both Brady and Belichick were ready to move on from each other.
It was the most incredible partnership in league history: six Super Bowl rings and nine Super Bowl appearances.
The question for next year and beyond is who will be better positioned for football success?
Brady in Tampa without the great head coach or Belichick in New England trying to figure out who his quarterback will be?
In the short term, Brady will have a better chance to win. He has a terrific group of playmakers and an emerging defense that came together at the end of last season.
I’m not sure if a Super Bowl is in his future, but the twilight of his career will not be a dud.
For Belichick, he’s always playing chess when everybody else is playing checkers.
In 2020, the Patriots may be in for a mediocre season, but I think it will allow them to set the stage to draft a quarterback in 2021.
In the long term, I wouldn’t bet against Bill Belichick.
That said, for the first time in a long time there is a case to be made that the New England Patriots won’t be the favorites to win the AFC East.
The door is now open for the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and, yes, the New York Jets in a way it hasn’t been in a long, long time.
Finally, there is the opportunity to go into the season hoping that if things break right, it can end in a division title.
It’s a hope that has been missing for years because the Patriots with Brady and Belichick were untouchable in that regard. Since 2001, the Patriots won the division every year.
The level of dominance within this division for almost 20 years has been nothing short of absurd, especially when you consider how the NFL structures the sport to try and ensure parity.
The legitimate hope for a changing of the guard is there, but what team in the AFC East will run with it?