Still here: Patriots prove they aren’t done yet with sixth Super Bowl win

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Brook Ward | Wikicommons

Andrew Marzullo

Mere hours after the New England Patriots won their sixth championship in 18 years, quarterback Tom Brady posted a video to his Instagram with tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Not a word was spoken in the video. Eminem’s classic “Without Me” played in the background as Brady and Gronkowski, who was wearing a Super Bowl LIII Championship T-shirt, smirked into the camera.

Then, a simple message over a video of the championship celebration played. It read, “STILL HERE…TO BE CONTINUED.”

The Patriots were written off all season, but they’re still here. In fact, they never left.

Every year appears to be “the year” the Patriots’ machine will finally lose a cog.

It seems that by the fourth week of every 16-week season, “experts” claim that arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of sports has run its course because Brady is too old, Gronkowski is a shadow of his former self or head coach Bill Belichick hasn’t evolved with the game.

Inevitably, the Patriots eventually earn a first-round postseason bye, handle their favored opponent in the Divisional Round and reach the AFC Championship game.

This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s the truth.

Brady, the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, has led the Patriots to the AFC Championship game 13 times in 17 years as a full-time starter.

His 76 percent chance of reaching the Conference Championship makes him more likely to reach the game than Michael Jordan was to make a shot or any quarterback in NFL history was to complete a pass.

His nine Super Bowl appearances and now six wins are more than any player in NFL history. It’s time to stop comparing Brady’s greatness to Peyton Manning and Joe Montana.

He is officially at a Jordan, Muhammad Ali or Wayne Gretzky level of greatness. Now, Brady hasn’t done it all himself, obviously.

His defenses have always been better than any defense the Indianapolis Colts had with Peyton Manning at the helm.

That’s where the greatness of Belichick comes into play. What Belichick has done as a head coach is second-to-none in NFL history.

He has won six titles leading the Patriots and two as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator following the 1986 and 1990 seasons, respectively.

He is arguably the greatest defensive mind in the history of the league and has the ability to completely eliminate a team’s best player. In the 2019 AFC Championship, his defense shut out the Kansas City Chiefs’ No. 1 ranked offense in the first half and in Super Bowl LIII, completely eliminated the Los Angeles Rams’ high-powered offense that scored 527 points this season.

It was a season defined by offensive explosion and in the defining game of the year, 16 total
points were scored.

Leave it to Belichick and the Patriots to completely turn the league on its head and beat a team in any way it can.

Super Bowl LIII defined coaching mastery. Credit the Rams and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for holding the Patriots to just 13 points.

However, credit Belichick, whose defense was torn apart in several games this season playing man coverage, for switching his entire scheme around to a zone coverage for the biggest game of the season and not only succeeding, but excelling.

The Patriots may have only scored 13 points, but, ironically enough, this was the first Super Bowl the Patriots won or lost by less than one possession during this historic run. The defense was historically great on Feb. 3.

It seemed as if Brady didn’t have to do much in this game to win. In fact, he didn’t throw a touchdown, but threw an interception on the first play of the game and fumbled.

However, Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, devised a plan that schemed open receivers all over the field for Brady to find in key moments of the game, allowing Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman to run free all game. Brady didn’t always find his targets but did when it mattered most.

That’s what makes him great.

Even when he struggles in a game and it looks like he’s out of it, he finds a way to make that one defining, critical play to keep his team in it.

That’s what makes the Belichick-Brady combo so great. Brady’s ability to keep the offensive scheme running fluidly while Belichick’s defensive and offensive game plans evolve as the game goes on is the reason they’ve won as many games as they have.

Fans outside of Boston dislike the Patriots because of how great they’ve been.

However, their success is earned year in and year out. Brady was never supposed to amount to anything in the NFL, but seized an opportunity and wrote NFL history.

If the Cleveland Browns didn’t fire Belichick when they became the Baltimore Ravens, one can argue that the Ravens would be the dynasty of the early 2000s, as the team won a championship without Belichick.

Imagine if Belichick had been head coach of the New York Jets, a position he held for hours before writing, “I resign as HC of NYJ” on a napkin.

Instead, he went to the Patriots and found a way to evolve his team, which was in danger of leaving New England, by not only staying with the game’s evolution but rather staying one step ahead.

When Drew Bledsoe was injured in 2001, the team rallied around the sixth-round pick Brady who wasn’t supposed to play and won the Super Bowl. 

Year in and year out, Belichick, who has control over player personnel, finds a way to make it work with players who fit his scheme and adjust his scheme for those players.

Players like Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson, who barely stood out on other teams and undrafted players like Super Bowl XLIX MVP Malcolm Butler and J.C. Jackson somehow became standouts.

Coaches who leave New England often don’t succeed outside of the systems they helped devise. Sure, they may always somehow find a way to beat Belichick as Mike Vrabel and Matt Patricia did this year, but that’s often the highlight of their season. There is magic in New England, and it hasn’t gone away.

Belichick and Brady are the greatest quarterback and coach combination in sports history, bar none. Football fans may not like them, but they have to appreciate them and their unprecedented greatness. What they’ve accomplished together will never again be matched and Super Bowl LIII cemented that.

Sure, the game may be more remembered for a SpongeBob SquarePants tease and Adam Levine’s strange tattoos, but it will also be remembered as the day that Brady and Belichick proved not only that they’re still here, but that they aren’t going anywhere.

Brady picked the perfect song for his post-game video with Gronkowski.

As Eminem’s lyrics state, “Cause it’d be so empty without me,” Brady smirks at the camera silently, slowly nodding his head, making it known he knows what we all know: he’s right.

The NFL wouldn’t be and won’t be the same without Brady and Belichick.