At 2-8, the New England Patriots are off to one of the franchise's worst starts in history, and many are pointing blame at head coach Bill Belichick. But former quarterback Tom Brady, who played 20 of his 23 NFL seasons with the Patriots, seemed certain of one thing -- the Patriots' game day struggles are no fault of Belichick's.
“I think he's [Belichick] an incredible coach," Brady said Monday in his appearance on The Stephen A. Smith Show. "He's the best coach, in my belief, in the history of the game."
Brady and Belichick had two decades of success together, combining for a record of 219-66, winning six Super Bowls. With Brady at the helm, Belichick was able to get in reach of Don Shula's record for most wins as a head coach. While the Patriots have been struggling this season, Brady was quick to defend his former coach.
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"So, I think he's prepared the team really well," Brady said of Belichick and the 2023-24 Patriots team. "Ultimately, you got to have a lot of people around you to succeed. You got to have a lot of things in place for the organization to be successful."
With Bill O'Brien failing to live up to the hype as an offensive coordinator, the New England offense has struggled. While the offense hasn't been considered anything special since Brady left, the Patriots were at least able to score some points under former OC Josh McDaniels. Since McDaniels' departure, Mac Jones has seen a large decline in stats, posting career-lows across the board through 10 weeks.
"The head coach is a very small part on game day," Brady added. "The quarterback plays a really big part on game day. Not the entire thing, but because you touch the ball, you have a big opportunity to impact the game."
Jones has struggled to help New England's offense this season. The third-year quarterback has thrown for only 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns, also throwing 10 interceptions. It's not all on Jones, though, with wide receivers consistently dropping uncontested passes.
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"I don't think he's probably coaching much different now than when we were undefeated in 2007," Brady said of Belichick. "I'm sure he's preparing the team the same way. The results are different, but again, that's why the sport is so challenging. There's a lot of reasons why teams win or lose."
While still the bright spot of this struggling New England team, the defense isn't helping the Patriots get any wins, either. Early injuries to key contributors, such as Christian Gonzalez, crippled the once-elite defense, which was only made worse by once-helpful players being cut due to character issues, such as Jack Jones.
"If you play really good defense, you've got a great advantage," Brady added. "I mean, you need a good defensive coordinator. You know, ultimately, it's a lot of things coming together -- why things work and why they don't.”
Once led by Matt Patricia, New England's defense is now led by Belichick's son, Steve Belichick, and linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. Through 10 weeks, the Patriots have allowed a total of 238 points, statistically making them the eighth-worst defense in the NFL by that metric.
With some fans calling for Belichick's firing, Brady isn't ready for a world without a Belichick-led Patriots.
"The thought of him not being in New England is hard for me to think about," the three-time MVP quarterback said.
Brady's praises for his former coach are high, seemingly inferring that New England's struggles are no fault of Belichick's. Now in the race for the first overall pick, the Patriots will resume play on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET as they take on the also struggling 3-8 New York Giants.