Sheehan’s Super Bowl XLIX Shots
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could walk away from the game right now and still be considered the best coach-quarterback combo of all time. That’s what winning three Super Bowls in a four-year period all while sustaining over a decade of excellence can do for you.
But does that mean their legacies are set in stone?
Not just yet.
The duo’s early dominance in the dynasty era certainly gives them credibility and a level of respect unlike any other pair in the NFL today or ever before. However, Super Bowl losses to the Giants in 2007 and 2011 and some early playoff exits in recent years have exposed Brady and Belichick as mere mortals.
Questions about Belichick’s inability to field a competitive defense and utilize all those draft picks have come into play. People have questioned whether Brady still has that clutch gene that made him a legend by the age of 27.
Of course, scandals like SpyGate and DeflateGate haven’t helped things. Belichick’s tenuous relationship with the media and Brady’s pretty boy image haven’t either.
Still, this legendary duo is once again in position to capture a fourth Super Bowl ring with a different group of players that got them to the big dance just a few years ago.
It’s that ability to persevere through roster turnover, injuries and rule changes that make the Brady-Belichick combo so great.
Some of the adversity the two have faced has been self-inflicted. Belichick’s draft history and failure to find Brady a top-notch receiver through the draft has been well-documented. The Hoodie has also struggled to draft and develop cornerbacks since striking gold with Asante Samuel more than a decade ago.
Brady’s had to endure a significant knee injury, a supposed decline in arm strength and more responsibility off the field as a husband and father. It’s safe to say both the coach and quarterback have changed as much as they’ve stayed the same over the years.
More than a decade later, you’ll still see Belichick snarl at officials. Brady drops more f-bombs after a three-and-out than Eminem in his prime. But there’s one common denominator in all of this: They just keep winning.
As the Patriots prepare to take on the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, the storylines here are endless. There’s Revis vs. Sherman. Robert Kraft and his only two coaching hires—Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick. The Seahawks trying to be the first team since the Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
At the end of the day, this game is really about one storyline: Brady and Belichick.
The 37-year-old Brady may only have a few years left, and with the possibility of Revis moving on in free agency, this might be the best chance Brady has left. Belichick, of course, will be around longer. But is anyone ready to go out on a limb and think he can turn Jimmy Garoppolo into a Super Bowl champion?
I’m not saying this is it for Brady and Belichick. The way this season’s gone, it’s ignorant to ever count them out. But is this the best chance for them to win their fourth Lombardi Trophy? I think so. A third consecutive Super Bowl loss can’t diminish the three wins, but it’ll definitely be a cloud hanging over their heads after going a decade without a championship.
Luckily, this isn’t a team feeling the pressure like the undefeated ’07 squad that featured Randy Moss, Wes Welker and a cast of aging Pro Bowl defenders. That team looked out of sync against the Giants, and thanks to David Tyree…well, we know how that one ended.
This isn’t the 2011 squad that overachieved and got some lucky breaks against the Ravens in the AFC Championship. Let’s remember that that team had Julian Edelman playing cornerback and had a defense that started Tracy White, Brandon Deadrick, Kyle Love and James Ihedigbo in the Super Bowl.
I’m not going out on a limb in saying that this year’s team is just as talented as the ’07 one, and this defense is arguably on par with those of the ’01-’04 years.
And it’s because of that improved defense that includes Revis, McCourty, Brandon Browner, Jamie Collins, Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones, that Brady and Belichick have to be feeling confident this week.
No longer does Brady have to play a perfect game for the Patriots to win. Just look at what LeGarrette Blount did to the Colts last week. Sure, the Seahawks are a much better defense, but New England has the horses to stop the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.
Ironically, the best quarterback and best coach in the game no longer have to shoulder all the responsibility in the biggest game of their careers. Finally, the supporting cast is in place, and it’s time for Brady and Belichick to reap the rewards.