A few years back, I wrote an article about NFL quarterback, Tom Brady. In this article, I stated that Brady is in no way, shape, or form, the “G.O.A.T”. He is just a good quarterback in the right system. Well, Brady went on to win his 7th Super Bowl with a different team (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and looked damn good doing it. At the age of 44, this guy looks good, I mean really good. I will not take anything away from him. The man was, and still is, killing it. I can also say he was able to win Super Bowl number 7 due to the talented players that were already on the Buccaneers roster, but they lacked a field general.
Now, let’s go back to why I felt Tom Brady was not the G.O.A.T. It was because I am a firm believer in solid systems. Solid systems are very difficult to beat, and Bill Belicheck’s New England Patriots teams are a prime example of such. Belichick’s lone season without Brady was a nightmare. He had Cam Newton (who was past his prime) at quarterback, and the team was trash. I mean don’t get me wrong, New England had some good players, but they lacked a solid QB and a field general; and Cam was not it. That season (in 2020), the Patriots finished 7-9; and their 11 year streak of making the playoffs had ended.
After the 2020 season, Belichick knew he needed a quarterback, even though they signed Newton to another one year deal. With his eyes set on the upcoming draft, he hoped maybe he could find one. Plan was to draft a young quarterback and groom him under Cam Newton, and the rest would be history. Sounds like a fairy tale right? Well, my friends, it’s not. Belichick went into the 2020 draft with a plan; and that plan included one player, which was Michael Mcorkle “Mac” Jones. Mac Jones played 3 seasons at the University of Alabama, where he set records for passer rating and completion percentage; and also won a national title his junior year. Here is where things get interesting. In the 2020 NFL draft, the first four picks were quarterbacks, and none were Jones. He was drafted at number 15 by the Patriots and Belichick’s decision not to trade up to get him paid off.
Being taken in the 1st round by the Patriots (Belichick is the general manager), at number 15, says a lot. Even more because there was a thought of trading up for Jones, but they decided not to. Taking a qb at #15 in the draft means that at some point, in the near future, they expect him to start. But, the near future wouldn’t be his rookie season, or could it?
Fast forward to the start of training camp, and the Patriots starting quarterback is supposed to be Cam Newton. Within a few weeks, the shocking news came, and the media was told by Belichick that he does not know who will be starting at quarterback this upcoming season. Now, the Patriots have a quarterback competition on hand, when many thought Newton would be the starter to begin the season. By the end of preseason, the Patriots had released Cam Newton, and named rookie, Mac Jones, as the starter for the upcoming season. Why was this decision made? I mean Jones has no NFL experience, at all. Why would Belichick hand over the keys to the offense to this inexperienced quarterback? While Cam Newton was unable to practice, Jones got a lot of work in with the 1st team. He made a huge impression on the coaching staff, which led to the release of Newton, and naming Jones the starter for the 2021 season.
In his 1st official NFL start, his stats were not that bad. He completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards,1 touchdown and 0 interceptions, though they lost the game. For the next 3 games, his numbers weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either (83/121 731 yards 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and a losing record of 1-3).
Even still, of the 5 quarterbacks drafted in the previous draft, he was having the best season, stat-wise. As the season progressed, the Patriots began to find their identity, which is a run first offense and a sturdy defense. Jones was not being asked to take over games; all he had to do was manage them and make plays when called upon. At one point, during the 2021 season, the Patriots were 9-4 in 1st place, in their conference, and on a 5 game winning streak. By the end of the regular season, the Patriots were playoff bound, and lost to the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round.
If Belichick has the right players in his system, it’s very hard to beat him. I am not taking anything away from Mac Jones, don’t get me wrong. The kid is a talent, but let’s not forget about Bill Belichick’s system, and how effective it truly is. I wonder how far this year’s Patriots team will go. Only time will tell.