There are plenty of NFL coaches who wouldn’t dare call out Tom Brady. But Bill Belichick isn’t most NFL coaches.
The New England Patriots head coach and quarterback have shared unprecedented success, teaming up to win four Super Bowls, six conference championships and 14 division titles. Brady, of course, has been at the center of that success, establishing a reputation as arguably the best quarterback ever.
But if you think Brady is beyond Belichick’s reproach, you couldn’t be more wrong. In a revealing article published Wednesday, MMQB.com’s Jenny Vrentas spoke to several former Patriots who recalled times when Belichick was extremely critical of — even downright disrespectful to — his star quarterback.
Take, for example, Belichick’s message to Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss after the two failed to connect on a pass during a 2007 practice:
“So we come in the next day,” Moss recalled to Vrentas, “(and) Bill Belichick puts up the film and basically says, ‘Are you kidding me? I have my such and such All-Pro wide receiver, and I have my All-Pro quarterback, and y’all cannot complete a 5-yard out?’”
“He said, ‘Tom, I can go down here and get the local high school quarterback to come and complete me a 5-yard out.'”
Or the other time Belichick, showing tape of a poor Brady throw in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, suggested replacing his then-three-time Super Bowl champion with a QB down the street.
“Bill was saying, ‘What kind of throw is this? I can get Johnny Foxborough from down the street to make a better throw than this,’” former Patriots wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth told Vrentas.
Brady isn’t free from Belichick’s wrath even when it looks like he’s succeeding. Ex-Patriots wideout Deion Branch recalled a stretch during 2005 training camp when he and Brady were tearing it up, connecting for “50-some completions” over a three-day span. Which is why Branch was surprised when his head coach pulled the two aside and proceeded to rip into them.
“A couple hours before we had our afternoon practice, coach came up to Tom and me,” Branch told Vrentas. “He said, ‘Look here, you two motherf——- will not get another completion. Throw the ball to somebody else. Do not throw the ball to Deion anymore the next two practices.'”
There was, of course, a lesson there: Belichick wanted Brady to spread the ball around to his other receivers, not just play favorites with Branch.
Such is the case in all of Belichick’s jabs at Brady: the veteran QB, as Vrentas points out, will stop at nothing to get better. Belichick knows this — and knows Brady won’t take his criticism personally — so he has no problem ripping into his star player to teach him a lesson.
There are plenty more Belichick-Brady anecdotes in Vrentas’ story, which is worth a full read and gives valuable insight into what makes the legendary QB-coach combo tick.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images