Bill Belichick’s First Season Without Tom Brady Shows No Signs of Being Easy

While Bill Belichick might not be the most beloved man outside the borders of New England, it’s impossible to argue with his talent. During his time with the Patriots, the head coach has turned his club into a dynasty. 2020, however, will bring some new challenges to Foxborough.

For the first time in 20 years, Bill Belichick will enter an NFL season without Tom Brady. As if that adjustment won’t be tough enough, the league just threw another curveball the coach’s way.

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have officially split up

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In every sport, certain players act like a second coach on the field, taking charge of the team. For the New England Patriots, Tom Brady became a natural extension of Bill Belichick.

While Brady might not have seemed like a star when he arrived in New England, he proved to be the perfect quarterback for Belichick. In his old scouting plans, the coach wrote that his signal-caller should make good decisions and possess good field awareness above all else. Brady was never the most athletic guy on the gridiron, but no one could argue with his football mind and will to win.

After two decades together and six Super Bowl titles, however, that partnership has become a thing of the past. Brady, looking for a new challenge, headed south to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In New England, Belichick signed Cam Newton for the 2020 campaign.

An NFL rule change will make the 2020 season even harder

All over the world, the coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to make changes. The NFL is no exception; at least one of those alterations could make life difficult for Bill Belichick.

As reported by ProFootballTalk, training camp rosters will be capped at 80 players, as opposed to the usual 90. While that might seem like much of a loss, it could change the complexion of the Patriots’ roster this fall.

As pointed out by Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston, Belichick and the Patriots are no stranger to plucking undrafted players and NFL journeymen from obscurity and adding them to their active roster. This season, however, his options will be a bit more limited.

“Teams have already missed spring evaluation periods like rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp,” Perry wrote. “Now as they get into what Bill Belichick refers to as ‘competition camp,’ bubble players and long shots have a nearly impossible task at hand: Beat out players in which teams have invested more significantly.”

Looking back through recent Patriots history, guys like Malcolm Butler, Steve Neal, and Benjarvus Green-Ellis all joined the club as undrafted free agents. In 2020, however, they might not have even gotten a shot to make the team.

2020 will put Bill Belichick’s coaching skills to the test

It goes without saying that a poor 2002 season won’t undo all of Bill Belichick’s coaching success up until this point. This campaign, however, should be an interesting test of his skills.

Over the past two decades, Belichick has built a reputation for himself as one of the best coaches in football history. Beyond his trophy cabinet—it’s hard to argue with six Super Bowl titles—he’s also been hailed as an organizational genius; no matter who is or isn’t on the roster, the Patriots always seem to find a way to compete. In 2020, however, that system will be put to the test. Replacing Tom Brady, who knows every page of the playbook without even thinking, will be an entirely new challenge.

Between having a new quarterback and having a limited preseason with a smaller roster, things won’t be easy for Bill Belichick. If he’s really the greatest coach in NFL history, though, he’ll surely rise to the occasion.

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