The Patriot way fuels the fire for New England

Belichick and Brady have led the Patriots to a record seven Super Bowls

You can love them, or you can hate them. You can cheer for them, or you can boo them. But one thing you can’t do is question their greatness. Not only do the New England Patriots rank highly in the discussion of the greatest sports franchises of all time, but success rate of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady over the last 16 seasons has arguably transformed the Patriots into one of America’s fan favorite teams across the National Football League.

Being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, last week’s American Football Conference Championship game when the Patriots defeated the Steelers 36-17 to move onto Super Bowl LI really stung, but it taught me one thing—it is almost impossible to bet against the mind of Bill Belichick and the talent of Tom Brady.

Much controversy has surrounded the Patriots franchise throughout the Belichick and Brady era, but they always seem to find their way around the drama and overcome the negative image placed on their team.

Across the NFL and news media, the first big scandal that began to tarnish the Patriot image was Spygate in 2007. During a game against the New York Jets, the Patriots were caught videotaping the Jets’ play-call signals on the sidelines of the field. Despite this being the first time the team was caught, after further investigation done by the NFL, the league determined that this scandal began back in 2002 and was a commonality within the Patriots organization.

The commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell responded to this controversy by fining the Patriots $250,000, taking away a first-round draft choice and fining Belichick $500,000. This would not be the only time that the Patriots were caught breaking the rules of the NFL.

During the 2015 season, Deflategate the biggest scandal in NFL history, broke the headlines in sports media. Those watching the 2015 AFC Championship game saw the New England Patriots rout the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, but the game didn’t just end there. The Patriots would later be accused of tampering with the footballs that were used in the AFC Championship. By deflating the footballs that they used, making it easier to throw and catch in the rainy and windy conditions both teams were facing during the game.

When it came down to the repercussions, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million, suspending Tom Brady for four games due to his involvement and stripping the team of their first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Although Brady took his suspension to federal court and got it vacated for the upcoming 2015 season, the 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the original decision to relieve Brady’s suspension and he was forced to sit out for the first four games of the 2016 season instead.

The way the Patriots attempt to constantly get around the rules of the NFL proves that they will literally do anything to win, even if they get caught. But you cannot knock their hustle. They prove to be one of the best teams in the NFL year after year. Despite the hatred for the Patriots, Belichick and Brady across the league, all 31 of the NFL’s other franchises know that they must prepare to their best ability when facing the Patriots. But what is the secret to the Patriots’ success since Belichick and Brady have been together?

That is where the secret of the “Patriot way” comes into play. Since Belichick began coaching the Patriots in 2000, he has run things a bit differently compared to other head coaches and their organizations. The New England Patriots have changed the way the game of football is played in the NFL which has fueled their success.

In an interview with Cover32, an NFL specialized news outlet, Belichick explained his unique coaching style. Belichick is known for his confidence in taking chances on high-risk, high-reward players that other teams refuse to go after. He also takes advantage of signing role players to contracts who slip under the radar of other teams and sometimes the NFL draft altogether because of their lack of size and unforeseen talent.

Belichick has used this secret formula to dominate the NFL since he was hired by the Patriots back in 2000. Take a look at Tom Brady, an average college quarterback at the University of Michigan who did not exactly light up the clipboards of professional scouts and coaches at the NFL combine. The New England Patriots took a chance on him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft with the 199th overall pick out of 254. Now, at the age of 39 and reaching the last years of his career, he will go down as arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

As much as you can possibly despise the Patriots, you cannot deny that their “strictly business” mentality as a franchise to do whatever it takes to win, has set them marks ahead of every other team in such a competitive league like the NFL. They have been changing the game for more than 16 seasons and they haven’t looked back since.

In 2007, the Patriots managed to finish the regular season with an undefeated record going a perfect 16-0 before losing in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants and finishing their season 18-1.  Only three other teams in NFL history have been able to accomplish this feat including the 1972 Miami Dolphins who ultimately won Super Bowl VII without a mark in the loss column.

Together, the dynamic duo of head coach and quarterback has won a remarkable 24 postseason games which marks first in NFL history and with their appearance in Super Bowl LI, Brady and Belichick now have reached a record seven Super Bowls during their career as a quarterback and head coach tandem.

Brady and Belichick have helped lead the way for the Patriots to win a total of four Super Bowls including XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXIX and XLIX. Entering Super Bowl LI versus the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 2, Belichick and Brady now have the chance to win their fifth as a pair, which would also be an NFL record. In addition, with their ninth Super Bowl appearance next week, the New England Patriots now hold the NFL franchise record for most Super Bowl appearances of any team in history.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on a Patriots win in this year’s Super Bowl, because I’ve witnessed too many seasons where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have run the table, and you just can’t go against them.