Are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Legacies Still in Question?

Going into the Denver game there was a lot of talk about what Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s legacies would be if they were to drop their 4th playoff game in a row.  At the time I thought it to be a little overblown, frankly it kind of pissed me off.  Sure it had been since the 2007 AFC championship that they had won a playoff game, but come on, they had already won 14 playoff games together which qualifies them as a top echelon tandem on its own.

Now that they have won 2 more games(16 total) they could lose their next 3…4…hell they could never win another playoff game(obviously the Tobin Bridge might get a little crowded if this were to happen) and still go down as one of the greatest coach/quarterback tandems in the history of the game. 

Below is an overview of every quarterback with 10 or more playoff starts:

Quarterback

Games Started

Wins

Losses

Percent

Bart Starr

10

9

1

0.900

Jim Plunkett

10

8

2

0.800

Tom Brady

21

16

5

0.762

Terry Bradshaw

19

14

5

0.737

Troy Aikman

15

11

4

0.733

Ben Roethlisberger

14

10

4

0.714

Eli Manning

10

7

3

0.700

Joe Montana

23

16

7

0.696

Kurt Warner

13

9

4

0.692

John Elway

21

14

7

0.667

Roger Staubach

17

11

6

0.647

Phil Simms

10

6

4

0.600

Ken Stabler

12

7

5

0.583

Steve Young

14

8

6

0.571

Donovan McNabb

16

9

7

0.563

Bob Griese

11

6

5

0.546

Fran Tarkenton

11

6

5

0.546

Brett Favre

24

13

11

0.542

Jim Kelly

17

9

8

0.529

Mark Brunell

10

5

5

0.500

Steve McNair

10

5

5

0.500

Craig Morton

10

5

5

0.500

Danny White

10

5

5

0.500

Peyton Manning

19

9

10

0.474

Matt Hasselbeck

11

5

6

0.455

Dan Marino

18

8

10

0.444

Warren Moon

10

3

7

0.300

Notables without 10 starts:  Drew Brees 5-4, Johnny Unitas 6-2, Joe Theismann 6-2, Aaron Rodgers 4-2

 There is a good chance Tom Brady could end up as the quarterback with the most career playoff starts, most career playoff victories, and in the top 5 of playoff winning percentage.  Even if he lost his next 3 playoff games, Brady would still be tied for 10th with John Elway in winning percentage, right behind Montana.

It would be fair to say quarterbacks get lumped into a few different categories, Pure Passers(Marino, Manning), Gunslingers(Elway, Favre) and Winners(Starr, Bradshaw, Aikman).  Brady and Montana are really the only two who fit into the Winners AND Pure Passers category.  Elway is probably the only Gunslinger you could argue that won at a prolific rate and you might be able to throw Roger Staubach in there.  Considerations must be made for the playoff format changes, and it probably goes without saying but I am focusing on the post-merger era, however a book could be written on this topic with all of its variables so in the interest of brevity I will spare you from a complete dissertation.

Eli Manning(Age 31) and Ben Roethlisberger(29) are the only 2 active quarterbacks that are on pace to be mentioned with the all-time greats and both will need at least 2 more deep runs in the playoffs to get there.  Drew Brees has an opportunity to get into the conversation but he will need at least another Super Bowl run plus tack on 6 playoff Ws at the age of 33, not to mention he is still 2 playoff Ws behind Eli.  Aaron Rodgers has a long way to go.

Suffice it to say,contrary to those conversations going into this postseason, Brady still has an opportunity to be the greatest quarterback ever and has probably already cemented his leagcy in the top 5.

Coaches were a little bit easier to narrow down, and as it stands with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick’s legacy seems to only have room to grow.  Let’s take a look at the top 13 coaches all-time with the key metrics being at least 10 playoff games played, at least 2 titles, and at least a .500 win percentage in the playoffs.  Here is the list:

Coach Plyf G Plyf W Plyf L Plyf W% Chmp SB Won SB App RS W%
Vince Lombardi 10 9 1 .900 5 2 2 .738
Bill Belichick 23 17 6 .739 3 3 5 .643
Tom Flores 11 8 3 .727 2 2 2 .527
Bill Walsh 14 10 4 .714 3 3 3 .609
Joe Gibbs 24 17 7 .708 3 3 4 .621
Jimmy Johnson 13 9 4 .692 2 2 2 .556
Chuck Noll 24 16 8 .667 4 4 4 .566
George Seifert 15 10 5 .667 2 2 2 .648
Mike Shanahan 13 8 5 .615 2 2 2 .569
Bill Parcells 19 11 8 .579 2 2 3 .570
Tom Landry 36 20 16 .556 2 2 5 .607
Paul Brown 17 9 8 .529 7 0 0 .672
Don Shula 36 19 17 .528 2 2 6 .678

Surprise! Marty Schottenheimer’s name does not appear anywhere on this list.

Noone could argue that the greatest coach of all-time does not appear on this list.  Some would make their case for Brown, or Lombardi, or Noll, but there aren’t too many other contenders.  I think you have to at least narrow it down to the guys with 3 titles or more.  Belichick is already there.  He is also only 4 wins away from having the most all-time playoff wins of all-time.  Much like Brady, it seems Belichick has already cemented his place in history as a top 5 all-time great at his craft. 

So let’s say the patriots had lost to Denver.  Belichick would still be in the top 6 for career playoff win percentage, tied for 2nd in SB rings, and tied for 4th in championships.  It is ludicrous to say that would have represented a tainted legacy.  I hate to dwell on the past but it is just crazy the amount of stupid bold statements that people like to make.

Point being, if for some reason the Patriots (with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady) were to drop their next 3 playoff games, I don’t want to hear that the legacies of these two all-time greats are in question.  Neither one of their names are ever going to fall off either of those lists above, and there is a good chance they both remain at the top when everything is said and done.

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1 Comment

Filed under Patriots

One response to “Are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Legacies Still in Question?

  1. Amen Broph. I can’t stand all the analysts trying to downplay what the two B’s have done in the past. The number of regular season records they have broken is unreal as well. Best coach QB combo EVER.

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