The New England Patriots’ recent struggles have been eye-opening.

So much so, in fact, that Shannon Sharpe felt the need to issue an apology to Tom Brady on Monday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN.

“I think I owe Brady an apology, because I don’t think I gave him enough credit, or I should have given him even more credit, because what Brady allowed Coach (Bill) Belichick to do,” Sharpe said. “Brady is the largest eraser in pro sports. Because every mistake that Coach Belichick made during that two decades (in New England), Brady could erase it.

“You took a bad receiver; Brady would take a seventh-round receiver — a receiver that you took in the first or the second or the third round — and Brady would erase it with a Julian Edelman. Or you make a mistake on a defensive back, he would take somebody else and he could erase it.”

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It’s been debated ever since Brady left the Patriots in 2020 whether he or Belichick was more responsible for New England’s dynasty, which included six Super Bowl titles. In reality, the Patriots probably wouldn’t have had the same success with just one-half of the legendary quarterback-coach duo, but the last few years certainly haven’t done Belichick any favors in the court of public opinion.

The Patriots went 25-25 over the last three regular seasons post-Brady, while also losing their only playoff game by 30 points. And amazingly, that mediocrity now feels enviable given the current state of affairs. The Patriots are 1-4 through five weeks of the 2023 campaign after suffering back-to-back lopsided losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.

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“Coach Belichick did a great job of designing defensive schemes,” Sharpe said Monday. ” … What he did against the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ (St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI) — all these great high-flying offenses — but at the end of the day, when you needed a quarterback to make a play, Brady always made that play.”

Brady immediately won another Super Bowl upon leaving New England and joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots, meanwhile, still are searching for answers at the quarterback position, with Mac Jones giving the organization little reason to believe he’s a true franchise signal-caller.

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All the while, there are some calling for the Patriots to move on from Belichick, one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. The situation in Foxboro has snowballed that much.

“A regular coach can’t have this level of success for two decades,” Sharpe said. “But what it does go to show you (is that) no matter how great of a defensive mind or an offensive mind you are, if you don’t have a guy that’s 6-foot-4 and 200-plus pounds with an arm, you’re whistling in the wind.”

Maybe everyone — at least those who backed Belichick in the popular New England GOAT debate — owes Brady an apology.

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Featured image via Kris Craig/USA TODAY Sports Images