Bill Belichick perfectly explains what makes the Patriots special when asked about how to replace Tom Brady

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the impact that Tom Brady has had on Bill Belichick’s career. In 25 seasons as an NFL head coach, Belichick has a 249-75 record (including the postseason) with Brady as his starting quarterback. His record is a 55-65 when someone other than Brady is his starting quarterback. The six-time Super Bowl champion head coach, when recently asked about how he plans to deal with Brady’s departure, alluded to the success that Matt Cassel had under the Patriots’ system in 2008, when Brady missed 15 games after suffering a major knee injury during the season opener. With Cassel under center, the Patriots finished that season with an 11-5 record while becoming the second 11-win team since the league expanded the regular season to 16 games in 1978 that failed to qualify for the postseason. Belichick believes the franchise’s success with Cassel is a harbinger for whoever is under center in 2020.

“Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills,” Belichick said, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “Cassel would be a good example. We geared everything toward what would be best for him, just like we always geared everything toward what was best for Tom to help our offense there. So I don’t really see that changing.”

While Belichick and the Patriots did manage to have success during Brady’s injury-marred 2008 season, the situation Cassel stepped into is considerably different than the one Jarrett Stidham, who is slated to replace Brady in 2020, is about to enter. The 2008 Patriots were coming off an undefeated regular season, while the 2020 Patriots are coming off of a first-round exit. Cassel had the luxury of throwing to Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and perennial Pro Bowler Wes Welker. Cassel was also complemented by a talented offensive line that helped the Patriots finish sixth in the NFL in rushing that season.

Stidham will be taking over a Patriots’ offense that finished just 25th in the NFL in rushing last season. New England also struggled in the red zone, as they were just 26th in the league in red zone efficiency last season. The Patriots’ offensive woes, which were in large measure due to injuries at the receiver position, contributed to New England failing to score 20 points in four out of their final eight games of the 2019 season. New England’s defense, which was on a historic pace during the first half of the 2019 season, lost several significant pieces this offseason that includes defensive lineman Danny Shelton and linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy.

While the Patriots are not as set up for success as they’ve been in years past, the kitchen is not completely bare. New England still boasts Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman is still on the offensive side of the ball, along with fellow veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu. The Patriots are surely hoping to get more production out of former first-round picks Sony Michel and N’Keal Harry in 2020.

And while Stidham is currently slated to be the team’s starter moving forward, there’s been rumblings that the Patriots may look to trade up from their 23rd pick in the draft, as it was recently reported that New England is “doing their homework” on former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who is being projected as a first-round pick.

Regardless of who is under center this season, it’s clear that Belichick is confident in his team’s ability to continue its winning ways, even with Brady no longer part of the program.

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