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Is Belichick the next Jerry Krause?

June 8, 2020

 

There's no doubt "The Last Dance" documentary has been the sports hot topic of the spring in a spring where courts, fields and rinks are darkened. 

 

It's also no secret the late Jerry Krause, the general manager of those legendary Chicago Bulls teams, was the architect in blowing things up after the 1997-98 season. 

 

His relationship with Michael Jordan wasn't always the best, after the Bulls had put Jordan on a "minutes restriction" in 1986 following his foot injury, angering basketball's Greatest Of All Time and souring Jordan's working relationship with Bulls brass. 

 

Fast-forward to this century and another dynasty. The New England Patriots.

 

The Pats don't have a GM. Head coach Bill Belichick is essentially the GM. And his relationship with his own GOAT, quarterback Tom Brady, is reported to have grown cold over the last few years, leading to this spring's divorce between the two. 

 

You could argue it started in the winter of 2018 when Belichick benched cornerback Malcom Butler in Super Bowl LII, and a masterful Brady performance was ruined by second-and-third string defensive backs getting shredded by journeyman Nick Foles.

 

A championship came the following year, but it was clear things in Fort Foxboro weren't rosy. The 2019 season was a prime example of that, with Belichick slowly gutting the weapons Brady had, and the quarterback's frustration was clear late in the season as the Patriots couldn't beat mediocre teams such as the Titans and Dolphins.

 

With Brady now in Tampa, this begs the question: Will Bill Belichick be the 21st century's Jerry Krause? 

 

While it's certainly possible, it's probably unfair to make that comparison until this season plays out. Can Brady win a championship without Belichick? 

 

It's certainly possible given the weapons Brady has in Tampa. We all know that. The question of the late 1990's was "could Pippen win without Jordan and Phil Jackson?" 

 

Pippen still played at a high level with the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, nearly taking the Blazers to the Finals in 2000, but they ran into the Shaq and Kobe L.A. Lakers. That dynasty was led by no other than Jackson, who infamously pronounced Celtic Leon Powe's last name wrong after Game 2 of the 2008 Finals.

 

Looking at the situations Brady and Belichick are in going into the 2020 season, Brady's bunch has a better shot to win a championship. 

 

Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to join Brady in Tampa and form arguably the league's best tight end tandem with O.J. Howard. Mike Evans is one of the top five receivers in the league. Bruce Airans is as good an offensive mind as there is in the game, and if the Bucs' defense can make enough plays, they've got plenty of offense to win track meets with the likes of the L.A. Rams and Saints.

 

Meanwhile in Foxboro, Belichick didn't do much to upgrade the offense and give the unproven Jarrett Stidham guys not named Julian Edelman and James White to throw the ball to. The Patriots still have a championship defense, but the offense is a shell of what it once was. Edelman is the Pippen to Brady's Jordan, but he's a slot receiver in his mid 30's who blew out his knee just a few years ago. 

 

Is Belichick the new Krause? Only time will tell. If the Patriots finish under .500 and miss the playoffs this season, it's safe to say those comparisons may very well surface amongst the fans and the New England media. We all know Belichick is known for being frugal in terms of contracts, but not doing a heck of a lot to uprgrade the offense in a pass-first NFL may produce a 2000-like result. 

 

Thankfully Drew Bledsoe is not walking through that door.

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