Brady or Belichick?

In the run-up to Super Bowl LI much ado was made about which man is more responsible for New England’s nearly two decades of success. A curious debate that probably doesn’t keep Robert Kraft up at night, wasn’t a new conversation at that time. In January of 2015, Greg Garber wrote about the Brady v. Belichick dynamic after talking to more than two dozen NFL insiders, and it certainly wasn’t solved by what ended up transpiring that night in Houston.

By the end of Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady posted a stat line of 43 completed passes on 62 attempts, with 466 yards through the air, and two touchdowns during the fourth quarter. Brady’s lone statistical blemish, a pick-six in the second quarter, barely registers in our minds after some fourth quarter heroics (read: fowl meltdown, sorry that was bad) erased a 25 point deficit before an overtime Patriots victory.

And yet, as much as Super Bowl LI was a tale of Brady showing up in “Brady Time”, it was also a story of coaching. A story of Kyle Shanahan and Dan Quinn failing (or refusing) to make the necessary adjustments to win the biggest game of their lives, and of Bill Belichick living up to and possibly surpassing everyone’s expectations.

So, the question remains Brady or Belichick?

So far, the 2017 season opener in Foxborough hasn’t shed much light on the conversation, if anything the waters get muddier. A spectacle of an opening night ended in a stunning defeat, with Kansas City winning the match-up 42 points to New England’s 27. It was considered a tough but winnable contest for the Super Bowl honeymooners, but the Patriots woke up the next morning wondering who they’d met the night before.

The answer: Kareem Hunt.

The rookie tallied 148 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown off just 17 carries, and two passing touchdowns and 98 passing yards off five receptions.

He made it look easy.

Too easy.

In fact, almost everything looked easy for the Chiefs Thursday night and that proves true on paper. For the first time in the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots defense gave up 537 yards of total offense, including 352 total passing yards with two passing plays longer than 70 yards. We’re talking about Alex Smith. The Game Manager. New England’s run defense didn’t fare much better and allowed a 58 yard blast from Kareem Hunt and 185 total rushing yards.

I know, but Tom Brady doesn’t play defense. No, but Tom Brady is the “GOAT” (insert: second coming of Jesus and Holy Savior). He failed to record a touchdown pass in the contest and completed just 44.4 percent of his passes. Danny Amendola DID leave the game with an injury and Brady was without Julian Edelman, but how many times have I heard this? Nick Wright said Brady looked old, but even more problematic for me is Tom Brady disappearing in the fourth quarter. That’s “Brady Time” and it’s Week One. He’s not allowed to disappear.

No days off.

That’s what Belichick said.