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Brady & Belichick: The Frenemy Era Begins

Last Updated: December 27, 2021
As TB12 returns to Foxboro for the first time as a member of the Buccaneers, just how much did their ability to win depend on one another?

The most compelling (or potentially painful) narrative of NFL Week 4? The GOAT returning to the place where it all started. You’ve witnessed the fanfare in the lead up to Tom Brady’s reunion in Foxboro against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. You’ve withstood the shouting on every daytime sports talk show under the sun.

But setting aside the bluster, what do the numbers say about how TB12 and Belichick’s CVs actually stack up?

Ahead of the Tampa Bay Bucs’ journey to New England on Sunday Night Football, let’s tell the tale of the tape.

Bill Belichick: Picking Up the Pieces

Record with Tom Brady: 219-64
Record without Brady:

Belichick has only had one losing season with Tom Brady on his team and it was TB12’s rookie year. Even in the season when Brady injured his knee, the Patriots still won more games than they lost. Without Brady on his team, Belichick has only had one winning season. 

Playoff appearances with Brady: 17
Playoff appearances without Brady:

To keep it simple, Bill Belichick has never made the playoffs without Brady at the helm of his offense. The closest he has ever come was in 2008; following the Patriots’ near-undefeated season, Brady suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the campaign, forcing Matt Cassel to play the remainder of the year at quarterback.

New England went 11-5 but failed to make the playoffs — becoming the first and only 11-5 team ever miss out.

Super Bowl appearances with Brady: 9
Super Bowl appearances without Brady:

It’s not possible for a team to make the Super Bowl without making the playoffs. Enough said. 

Division titles with Brady: 17
Division titles without Brady:

Brady and Belichick’s reign over the AFC East was the most dominant, dynastic division run the NFL has ever season. Brady played 20 seasons with Belichick, and in 19 of them, he was the Week 1 starting QB. Only twice did the Patriots come in second in the division while Brady was under center.

Patriots valuation before Brady: $464 million (per Forbes)
Patriotsvaluation after Brady:
$5.3 billion (per Sportico)

Robert Kraft bought the Patriots for $175 million in 1994 — an NFL record at the time. The Patriots were worth $464 million in 2000, slightly above the NFL’s average of $423 million. The following year, New England won the first of six Super Bowls in 20 years with only one losing season (and TB12 wasn’t on the team when that happened). Six Super Bowls later, the Patriots are the second-most valuable team in the NFL.

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Tom Brady: Old GOAT, New Tricks

Record with Bill Belichick: 219-64
Record without Belichick:

These numbers are obviously skewed; Brady played 20 of his 22 seasons with the Patriots and this is his second year with the Buccaneers. Still, in one season with the Bucs, Brady won a Super Bowl and his win-to-loss ratio is slightly above 2/1. 

Highest annual salary with Belichick: $23,000,000 (2019)
Highest annual salary without Belichick:
$28,375,000 (2020)

This point has been covered ad nauseam. For years, Tom Brady took pay cuts to ensure that the Patriots could keep building championship contenders — and for nearly his entire tenure, it worked. Up until his last season with the Patriots in 2019, Brady never made more than $21 million in total cash in a season. Now, his current contract is a fully guaranteed $50 million over two years.  

Most passing TDs in a season with Belichick: 50 
Most passing TDs in a season without Belichick:

Arguably the best season of Brady’s career came in 2008 when the Patriots went 18-1, only losing in the Super Bowl. Brady tossed a then-NFL record 50 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Last season with the Bucs, Brady threw 40 touchdowns, the second-highest mark of his career. In three games, Brady has already thrown 10 touchdowns. 

Mostpassing yards in a season with Belichick: 5,235
Most passing yards in a season without Belichick:

The most yards Tom Brady has ever thrown for in a season came in 2011, when the Patriots met the Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time. The 5,235 yards would have been the most all-time in a season had Drew Brees not thrown for 5,476.

Peyton Manning broke Brees’s record two years later in 2013. In Brady’s first season with the Bucs, he threw for the fourth-highest mark of his career. So far this season, he’s thrown for over 1,000 yards in three games and he has an extra game to eclipse his own mark. 

Super Bowl wins with Belichick: 6
Super Bowl wins without Belichick:

In 20 years with the Patriots, Brady made the AFC Championship game 13 times, with nine Super Bowl appearances and six wins. So far, Brady is one for one in Super Bowls with the Buccaneers.

Only time will tell if he’ll be able to capture an incredible eighth Lombardi Trophy.

About The Author
Randall Williams
Randall Williams
Randall Williams is a Staff Writer covering sports business and music for Boardroom. Before joining the team, he previously worked for Sportico, Andscape and Bloomberg. His byline has also been syndicated in the Boston Globe and Time Magazine. Williams' notable profile features he has written include NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent, Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim Hamad, BMX biker Nigel Sylvester and both Shedeur and Shilo Sanders. Randall, a graduate of "The Real HU" - Hampton University - is most proud of scooping Howard University joining Jordan Brand nearly three months before the official announcement.