Super Bowl LV: The Coach on the Couch

This year, Belichick will watch Brady at home instead of from the sidelines

Red Auerbach and Bill Russell. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. 

Throughout history, we have seen many legendary coach-player duos that lead us to ask the question: should a team’s success be attributed to the athlete or the man on the sidelines with the clipboard? 

When it comes to the historic duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, we may get a clearer answer to that question on Super Bowl Sunday, when young star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs play the legendary Tom Brady and his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Like most years, this Sunday the spotlight will fall upon each team’s quarterback. Their gaps in age and experience will certainly be on display in the game. Brady is 43 years old and at the end of his twenty-first season in the NFL. — from the Washington Football Team vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, January 9, 2021 (All-Pro Reels Photography)

Across the field, Mahomes is 25 years old and only in his fourth season. Since he was named league MVP in 2018, Mahomes has put up record numbers. Last season he had consistently dominant offensive numbers in the regular season and playoffs that culminated in a Super Bowl MVP award and ring, and have made him comparable to legendary quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and, yes, Brady. 

After a very successful season, many young players display a dropoff in their performance because of the mounted expectations to play at such a high level. Mahomes had no such dropoff. In fact, it is fair to say he had an even better season this year. 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (source: Wikipedia Commons)

By contrast, Brady, who has won six Super Bowls and was considered the best quarterback in the league for many seasons, has faced many critics recently saying he is too old to be playing football. Every season that Brady grows older, he continues to prove these critics wrong. In the past three seasons, he led the Patriots to two Super Bowl appearances, and a Super Bowl ring in 2019. This year, competing with a new team for the first time in his career, Brady is once again playing on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Last year, Brady’s season ended in a first round playoff loss, which capped his 20 seasons playing alongside Patriots coach Bill Belichick. When he left the team that drafted him to join Tampa Bay, all eyes fell to Belichick and the Brady-less Patriots. One question was on everyone’s minds: in their first season apart, who will win on their own? 

This season the Patriots were certainly a less talented team than they have been in the past. They finished only 7-9 and did not make the playoffs. Brady, on the other hand, not only led the Buccs to the playoffs, but to the Super Bowl. This doesn’t just have implications of one winning without the other, it begins to make clear who was behind the 20 years of success in New England. 

So when it comes time for the game, fans will be hoping to see a young, upcoming quarterback with huge potential prove himself against a legend in the NFL. While many avid fans will undoubtedly be looking for great catches, saves, and throws, many more will turn their heads to watch Brady step onto the field for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday without Belichick on the sidelines. Instead, Brady’s former coach will be at home, just like the rest of us. 

Super Bowl LV is in Tampa, FL and will begin on Sunday at 6:30 on CBS. 

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