One month into his second season without Tom Brady, it may be becoming clear who needed the other more, even after both the coach and quarterback stumbled in Week 3.
Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick: the numbers don't lie
Bill Belichick is 54-61 in games without Tom Brady in his ,career with the bulk of the data coming from the pre-Brady era, according to ABC Action News. Until now, however, it was unclear whether Belichick had overcome those early losses pre-Brady or if he needed a Hall of Fame quarterback all along.
Before last season and change without Tom Brady, Belichick had a narrative that he started slowly in the 1990s as he learned how to be a great coach. By the time he landed with the New England Patriots, he knew all he needed and was primed to break out as the best coach in the NFL.
In the 1990s, Belichick's best season as a head coach was 11-5 but it was his only season over .500.
His final season as head coach in the 1990s was in 1995. Ultimately, his record with the Cleveland Browns stood at 5-11. Pre-Brady, even his first season as the head coach of the New England Patriots was tough. He started his career with the team with a 5-11 season. Once he got Brady on the field, though, Fortune started to smile and they started to win big.
With Brady, Belichick went on to win three Super Bowls before 2005. With Brady, the Patriots never went under .500 and only missed the playoffs once from 2001 to 2019. In 2008, Brady missed the entire season due to injury and Matt Cassel took the team to an 11-5 record. From 2008 to 2020, this was the biggest talking point going for Bill Belichick.
Without Brady, the team still put together a playoff-caliber season. In most seasons, an 11-win year would guarantee at least a Wild Card spot. However, the post-Brady era has shown that 2008 may have been a fluke. Since Brady left the Patriots, the team is 8-11 with a combination of Cam Newton and Mac Jones.
Overall, in Belichick's career, the future Hall of Famer is 54-61 in games without Tom Brady. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 2-1 this season, coming off a Super Bowl win.
If Brady defeats Belichick on Sunday Night Football, it may act as the final nail in the coffin in the decades-long debate about whether a coach is more important than a quarterback.