Tom Brady is finally back at practice, and everything is once again right with the world. Or is it? Is it possible that the relationship between Brady and Bill Belichick is fractured? And, if so, are they able, and willing, to repair it?
I can’t imagine that Belichick is happy with Brady this offseason. Not only did he not show up to voluntary workouts, but he seemed to be almost thumbing his nose at his coach. This Instagram post, in particular, did not look great.
OTAs had just started and he was going on vacation with his family. His teammates are working hard at workouts that he is skipping, and he has the audacity to post a picture of himself at practice from a few years ago? I view that as nothing less than a slap in the face to his coach, who would obviously prefer he be there. Then take into account the things he said this offseason. Second-guessing the coach when he said he wishes Butler had played. That may not seem like a big deal, but try to remember the last time Brady, or any Patriot for that matter, questioned a decision made by Belichick. I can’t think of one. Then there’s him and Gisele implying that he doesn’t feel appreciated or have fun at work. When you add it all up, the majority of the issues the Patriots have had this offseason have a direct link back to Brady.
There’s also another wrinkle: it appears that the owner has decided to choose his quarterback over his head coach. You may look at the first piece of evidence as the report that Kraft told Bill he had to trade Jimmy G. I don’t believe that story, I think there are many reasons that Bill traded Jimmy, and I believe that he didn’t want to, but in the end, he had no choice. Could that trade have actually led to some bad blood between Belichick and Don Yee? I think that’s possible. The only reason Bill would’ve waited until mid-season to trade Jimmy is that he thought he would be able to sign him to an extension. If Yee led Belichick to believe that was possible, and then never came close to a deal when they actually started negotiating, that could’ve certainly pissed off Bill. Since Garoppolo and Brady both employ Yee as their agent, it may be the source of some bad blood.
I also point to the fact that Kraft decided to support Brady’s decision to skip OTAs. He came out before everyone and said it was understandable, and he wasn’t upset about it. So when Bill was asked about it yesterday, how could he have responded any other way than to say that he supported Brady? Kraft cut Belichick’s legs out from underneath him.
The last point is that they decided to bring back Josh McDaniels after he had agreed in principle to become the Colts new coach. I think there are two possible reasons for this. First, that Bill is stepping down after this year. I don’t think this will happen, and a big reason is the way they drafted this year. They moved around a ton and picked up a 2nd and 3rd round pick next year. Why would Bill be looking for picks next year if this were his last year coaching? The second reason is the perhaps Brady requested that McDaniels be brought back. Maybe Brady told Kraft that he didn’t know if he would be able to work with Belichick directly all the time, and he needed McDaniels to be a buffer of sorts between the two.
How big is the problem between Brady and Belichick? Only time will tell, but to have seemingly no interaction on the first day of practice after not seeing each other since February does seem a little odd. It makes me nervous for this season. How will the rest of the team respond to their relationship, and will they be as successful this year if they are unwilling to fix any problems they may have?
If any duo can overcome something as toxic as this could become, its these two. They are the greatest to have ever done it at their positions, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be worried about their relationship moving forward.
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @wtplane