Patriots Talk: Is the 21st century NE Patriots the Greatest NFL Dynasty?
by Stephen Hilton
With the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, not only are the Patriots solidified as a dynasty reborn in the 2010s, but it means that the 21st century New England Patriots could quite possibly be the greatest dynasty that has appeared within the NFL since Vince Lombardi‘s Green Bay Packers of the 1960s. Us fans are still in amazement, but we all knew that counting out Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady is a very foolish idea. Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck now have 5 rings with each other, more than any other head coach or quarterback in the entire history of the NFL. (Brady is officially tied with only one other quarterback and that is Bart Starr who won 5 NFL Championships before winning two of the first ever Super Bowls after the merger)
It is truly incredible to realize just how long that these two men have been playing together. Since 2000, the New England Patriots have only missed the playoffs three times and that was in 2000 with a 5-11 record (the only season they were below .500), 2002 season with 9-7 and in 2008 with a 11-5 being led by backup Matt Cassel when Brady went down with an ACL tear. Despite that, every other year the Patriots went to the playoffs. They have won the AFC East division title 8 straight times since 2009 alone (beating out the 1973-77 Oakland Raiders for the most consecutive division titles in NFL history), won the AFC championship game 7 times out of 10, and now have won the Superbowl 5 times out of 7. In just 17 years, New England fans have been spoiled by the greatest duo to appear within the national football since Joe Montana and Bill Walsh who defined the 1980s San Fransisco 49ers dynasty.
But that alone isn’t the reason for why the Patriots are so great. Unlike any other dynasty that came before it, they are the only team that has within almost two decades stayed consistent in their success and done it in an era with the salary cap and free agency in place which has made it vastly more difficult for teams to maintain talent on their roster and more importantly, to win consistently within the NFL. The system now was built to make it hard for dynasties to appear within the NFL but somehow, Belicheck not only found a way, he has created the perfect formula for success.
However, Brady and Belichick could be seen as the perfect pairing. Everybody knows that the quarterback is the most important offensive position on the field. The way that people will constantly look towards stats about how today’s modern day quarterbacks destroy passing yards and touchdown records from many decades ago fail to realize how much the NFL has changed compared to literally 20 years ago. Brady has always played to the best of his ability to make sure the team was put in the best field position to win games. He has changed his game from every season since becoming the New England starter. And while personnel, players and offensive coordinators have always changed in Foxborough, the one constant that has been in the same position with Belicheck has been Tom Brady.
To me: Tom Brady is the very ideal of Belicheck’s football philosophy. (“Do Your Job.”) He is the greatest for specifically what Belichick needs in a player. With Tom’s type of presence at the quarterback position, it gives Belichick a lot of flexibility and focus in dealing with the team around him. Whatever the situation whether it be dealing with a conservative style of game like in the 2000s or even now, Tom has risen to every challenge and done everything to give the Patriots the best chance at winning the Super Bowl.
So who deserves the most credit for giving us Patriots’ fans so much success? Belicheck or Brady? In my opinion, Belichick could succeed with other QBs but I highly doubt that just ‘any old quarterback’ could take this team to over 7 Super Bowl appearances. Belicheck before he had Brady was below .500 as a head coach but after everything they have accomplished, I think its fair to say that they truly couldn’t be more perfect together. Brady is the perfect player and leader for Belicheck’s system to help him go from just being a very solid coach to possibly the greatest since the man who the Super Bowl trophy was named after. And to answer my own question; is the 21st century Patriots’ the greatest dynasty in the NFL? Yes, and it is for a very good reason. Belicheck and Brady are still not done yet. And with the way they just won Super Bowl LI, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say they can win it all again.