New England Patriots legendary coach Bill Belichick was in unfamiliar territory in 2020.
He lost his franchise quarterback Tom Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To add insult to injury, Brady led the Bucs to the Super Bowl while Belichick’s Patriots finished 7-9.
That amounted to a third-place finish in the AFC East, a division the Patriots owned for more than a decade.
Assuming the coach’s reputation is tarnished because he could not win without Brady, what can Belichick do to return to glory?
Here are three ways he seals his status as the GOAT of NFL coaches.
3. Beat Brady And The Bucs
It’s official… Bucs at Patriots on October 3rd (Week 4) in prime time on Sunday Night Football.
Foxboro is going to be ELECTRIC. Brady vs. Belichick in a game we’ve all been waiting for! It’ll be better than most Super Bowls, possibly the best game of our lifetime. pic.twitter.com/l2xo0Ru2NW
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) May 12, 2021
This is easier said than done, but Belichick has a chance to win a head-to-head battle with Brady during the 2021 regular season.
The game is on October 3 at Foxborough.
Belichick’s Patriots need to beat the Bucs in this game.
Preferably, this should be a decisive one-sided victory, but regardless, a win is a win.
Brady did jump conferences so Belichick defeating Brady’s Bucs in the first opportunity they play each other would be a return to glory for Belichick and the Patriots.
2. Develop Mac Jones Into Franchise QB
OT Trent Brown on QB Mac Jones: “He’s a young guy but you can’t really just refer to him as a young guy; you can tell he’s been at a place where’s got some coaching. And I think he’s going to be special in the future.”
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 16, 2021
Part of the problem Belichick had when Brady left was because there was no heir-apparent to Brady in New England.
The Patriots signed Cam Newton who is a fine quarterback, but he struggled in 2020 with the transition to a new team.
Contracting COVID-19 did not help Cam’s cause either.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted what could be Brady’s heir-apparent in rookie Mac Jones from Alabama.
Belichick needs to develop Jones in a reasonable time frame and rack up wins and excitement with Jones under center.
This would prove the point that Belichick can field a good team with another franchise quarterback.
1. Win Super Bowl
Of course, this would be the crowning moment.
Winning another Super Bowl with essentially a rebuilt team, without Tom Brady, would seal his fate for any lingering doubters wondering who is the best ever to coach in the NFL.
This is not a simple task even though Belichick and Brady made it look that way for years.
The other factor working against Belichick is his age.
He is 69 years old.
It is unlikely that he can achieve all three of these goals in 2021.
He needs to make one of them happen though, and the “easiest” would be to beat Brady and the Bucs in October.
If Belichick is not able to achieve these three goals before retiring from coaching, he will always be on the losing end of one famous debate that emerged in 2020.
Can't play past 40? Can't win without Belichick? Can't win on the road? Can't throw that deep ball? Can't take a team to the SB in its home stadium?
Checkmate, Brady. His 10th Super Bowl run is the best of his career:https://t.co/CH5tHHdozB
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 24, 2021
That was, who needs the other more, Brady or Belichick?
Brady’s Super Bowl win with the Bucs proves in the short run that Belichick needed Brady more.
It has only been one season since they parted ways so with more time and success, Belichick could win that debate and return to glory.