The Tom Brady Era in New England has ended.
Although it was not known at the time the coming of Tom Brady to the New England Patriots was a sports earthquake, much like the coming of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in Baseball or Bill Russell to the Celtics in Basketball or Wayne Gretzky to Edmonton in Hockey.
In all of these cases it was quickly established that the coming of said superstar meant that the franchise in question was now considered the prohibitive favorite to win the championship in their sport.
And with the exception of the Yankees who amazingly thanks to the coming of Lou Gehrig during the Ruth Era and Joe DiMaggio during the Gehrig Era and Mickey Mantle & Yogi Berra during the DiMaggio era in succession kept those high exceptions post Ruth the departure of Brady means a re-evaluation of the expectation for both the Patriots and for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Let’s start with the New England Patriots.
The New England Patriots began playing in 1960 and played with a quarterback other than Tom Brady starting games from that year though the year 2000. They played a 14 game schedule from 1960-1976 and a 16 game schedule since. The Patriots had a winning record in 22 out of those 41 seasons. Of those 22 winning seasons the teams best pre Brady Years in terms of wins were as follows
- 1964 10-3-1
- 1976 11-3
- 1978 11-5
- 1985 11-5
- 1986 11-5
- 1996 11-5
During that period these were the years that they won their division
1963, 1978, 1986, 1996, 1997
During that period these are the years they made the playoffs
1963, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998
Of those playoff years these are the years they won at least one playoff game
During that period these were the years they made it to the Superbowl or the AFL Championship game pre-superbowl
1963, 1985, 1996
They never won a championship
So as you can see over 41 years the aNew England / Boston Patriots
- Had a winning record 55% of the time
- won 11 or more game (10 in a 14 game season) 14.6% of the time
- won their division 12% of the time
- made the playoffs 24% of the time
- won a playoff game 9.7% of the time
- went to a championship game 7% of the time winning 0%
Tom Brady took over as the Patriots starting QB during the 2001 season and remained the starting QB through the 2019 season. During that 20 year period these are the season where they did NOT win at least 12 games
- 2001 11-5 (partial Brady Season)
- 2002 9-7
- 2005 10-6
- 2008 11-5 (Brady injured game 1 out for season)
- 2009 10-6
- 2018 11-5
These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots did NOT win their division or make the playoffs
These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots dd NOT win a playoff game
These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots did NOT go to the Superbowl
2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010,2012,2013, 2015, 2019
So lets sum up during the Tom Brady Years
- Had a winning record 100% of the time
- The Patriots won at least 12 games 70% of the time
- The Patriots won their division & made the playoffs 90% of the time
- The Patriots won at LEAST one playoff game 70% of the time
- The Patriots went to the Superbowl 50% of the time
- The Patriots WON the superbowl 30% of the time (67% of the times they went)
Or to put it another way, the best New England/Boston Patriots seasons in their pre-Brady years would be considered failures during the Brady years and their three appearances in the Superbowl/Championship would all be rated at best disappointments in the Brady era.
Now the Tom Brady Era has officially ended which means that unless Jarrett Stidham or any quarterback that they draft this season turns into the 2nd coming of Lou Gehrig logically our expectations for Patriots should return to a pre-Brady level to wit.
Any year that the New England Patriots post Brady:
- Have a winning record: should be considered OK
- Win 11 games: should be considered a success
- Win their division: should be considered a big success
- Make the playoffs: should considered a huge success.
- Win a playoff game: should be considered an spectacular success
- Go to the Superbowl: should be considered an extraordinary success
- Win a Superbowl: should be considered a Miracle
Now there are those who consider that a fair amount of Tom Brady’s success in general and the Patriots success in particular should be given to Coach Bill Belichick who some consider the greatest coach in Football history. For those of you who consider this the case let’s make a slight adjustment.
Any year the New England Patriots Under Belichick post Brady
- Win a Superbowl, it’s an extraordinary success
- Go to the Superbowl it’s a spectacular success
- Win a playoff game it’s a Huge success
- Make the playoffs, it’s a big success
- Win their division, it’s a success
- Win at least 11 games, it’s an OK season
- Win less than 11 games…fire the bum!
These are reasonable expectations. I suspect that Patriots fans after two decades of winning will not be as generous as me with their expectations.