What would have happened with the Patriots if Tom Brady had stayed this season?

The Patriots are no longer a playoff team. They’ve fallen deeper into the abyss known as rebuilding.
Worse, they’ve become a human punching bag for the Buffalo Bills.
Would Tom Brady have saved the Patriots from such a disastrous fate in 2020? Would he have made them a playoff team?
Maybe.
Let’s just say he probably would have saved them some of the embarrassment they’re currently stomaching, but not all.
While he would have completed a lot more passes, gotten them a few more wins and made them a fringe playoff team, he couldn’t have squeezed a lot more out of the rock in Foxboro.
NBC analyst and Patriots Hall of Famer Rodney Harrison agreed.
“Any time you have Tom Brady on your team, he’s going to make a difference. Any time you have Brady, he’s going to help you,” Harrison said when reached Wednesday. “Would they be a playoff team with him? I think they would have been a bubble team, right around 9-7. Maybe, at best, 10 wins if he had an incredible year . . . but Tom can’t play defense.”
In other words, he wouldn’t have cured all that’s wrong with the Patriots, and that’s really the bottom line. The Patriots are too flawed, and lacking at so many positions. As much as he’s made the impossible happen throughout his storied career, a 43-year-old Brady would not have been a miracle worker with this group.
Could he have fixed the lack of talent at receiver, prevented the tight end group from being the absolute worst in the league?
As we saw, Brady had some of the same issues last year, trying to maintain a viable offense with no weapons at those positions. The lack of an arsenal made him miserable, because at age 42, he was no longer capable of carrying an inferior group. And yet, the Patriots were still in the playoffs.
In Tampa, flanked with playmakers galore, Brady is now playoff bound. Making the people around him better is important, but not quite as critical to success as it was in New England. So there’s something to the personnel narrative, and having a good cast.
Really, there’s no way he would have registered 36 touchdown passes, his current total in Tampa, with the crew in New England.
Moreover, could Brady have dialed up a pass rush, stopped the run, or prevented players from jumping offsides at the worst possible times, all of which have been on display with the Patriots this season?
And could he have made the Patriots more prepared for a fake punt, or stopped them from making a stupid challenge against the Bills?
Not likely on all counts.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t missed. Not having No. 12 under center did have a significant impact.
Beyond landing a possible playoff berth, he could at least throw the football and complete passes with regularity. That’s been sorely missing with Cam Newton’s troubles hitting targets.
Brady was also incredibly good at reading a defense, knowing instantly how to adjust, and getting the ball out quickly.
Newton hasn’t shown that ability with any frequency. And, when he’s come on in relief, Jarrett Stidham has also been a bit hesitant.
Beyond that, there are the intangibles Brady brought to the team.
Just his presence provided a healthy dose of confidence in the locker room, especially during the close games.
Ever since he led the Patriots to a victory as a huge underdog in the first Super Bowl against the Rams, the players inherited a sense of belief that was hard to break.
As the years moved on, and the rings piled up, the Patriots knew they could beat anybody as long as Brady was under center.
Even with a lack of talent, even if the scoreboard showed a double-digit deficit, they still had a chance.
That priceless feeling left when Brady hit the road for Tampa.
It’s hard to replace the constant kick in the pants and jolt of confidence the GOAT provided.
Quarterbacks who can walk the walk are few and far between.
While Newton has been great in the locker room, once he steps on the field, having that kind of belief and confidence basically flies out the window.
How can you feel buoyed by a quarterback who can’t throw? How can you get back into games with someone who’s rarely displayed a comeback gene in New England, compared with someone who almost always made it happen.
In that light, SiriusXM NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots thinks Brady would have provided maybe four more wins (KC, Denver, first one with Buffalo, Houston) for the Patriots heading into the final week.
“It’s the Brady Factor,” said Wilcots. “I think he would have been good enough, given the way the season unfolded, for four more wins . . . just look at what he’s done at Tampa. I can think of a few games (Giants, Raiders, Falcons) they don’t win unless he’s there. So we know who he is. The Brady Factor is legit.”
Maybe Belichick thinks he can still win with anyone behind center. Maybe this season was just an aberration in his view. That certainly remains to be seen.
But much of their swagger and confidence came from Brady. His 59 comeback wins, including a record 13 in the postseason while with the Patriots, speak to that.
None of the quarterbacks in the Patriots room inspire that kind of feeling. Perhaps the NFL MVP version of Newton did, but not the version of Newton currently leading the offense.
So Belichick’s top mission during the offseason is to find a much better quarterback. That’s a given. But it won’t do much unless the supporting cast improves all around.
Just look at Brady. He wound up finding a better cast in free agency. It remains to be seen how far that takes him with the Bucs, who are in the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.
But at least he’s at the dance — something that now seems miles away for the Patriots.

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