Devin McCourty disagrees with Samuel’s take on Brady-Belichick debate originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
This may surprise you, but Asante Samuel and Devin McCourty have slightly different opinions on whether Tom Brady or Bill Belichick deserve more credit for the success of the New England Patriots dynasty.
Samuel, who won two Super Bowls as a star cornerback with Patriots from 2003 to 2007, recently resurfaced the hot-button discussion by taking Brady’s side on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast.
“The Patriots were a dynasty because of Tom Brady,” Samuel said, insisting that Belichick “got away” with personnel and strategy decisions because of Brady’s greatness.
McCourty sees things differently, however. In a conversation with NBC Sports Boston’s “The Camera Guys” on Wednesday night, the veteran Patriots safety laid out why Belichick was so crucial to New England’s six Super Bowl titles during Brady’s two decades with the team.
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“You can’t take away from all the decisions that have to be made for a team to go out and win a Super Bowl,” McCourty said. “They even talked about it on the ‘I AM ATHLETE’ podcast: ‘Well, sometimes you played (a) 4-3 (defense). And sometimes you played 3-4.’
“To me, that’s the thing. A lot of people say, ‘He’s a great coach; he put Troy Brown on defense.’ And it’s like, ‘I don’t think that’s what made him a great coach.’ It was what we did in the building.”
McCourty cited the specific example of Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. After the Patriots played almost exclusively man-to-man defense against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, Belichick had his defense switch to zone coverage in the Super Bowl, a move that flummoxed the Rams’ high-powered offense en route to a 13-3 New England win.
“(In) the Kansas City game, I think we played maybe one or two snaps of zone coverage. And to come out and really say, in the biggest game of the year, ‘We’re going to do something we haven’t done all year,’ and then we gave up three points to a team that was electric.
“I think those are the things that, no matter how great Tom and the offense were on the other side of the ball, those things that you’ve seen throughout Bill’s coaching career … that’s greatness. You can’t teach that.
“Ultimately, putting those teams together, deciding what we were going to do, where this guy was going to play — all of those things, that was him.”
McCourty also brought up the example of a very talented quarterback who found far less success with his team than Brady and Belichick.
“Don’t get me wrong: You do get to do some things when you’ve got a guy like Tom leading,” McCourty said. “But we watch the game. Like, how great is Aaron Rodgers? … And he has one Super Bowl. That’s because it’s so hard to win a Super Bowl. Not one quarterback wins all of these Super Bowls. It’s just impossible. “
Some point to Brady winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as evidence that he can “win without Bill” and therefore deserves more credit for the success of the Patriots dynasty. But the reality is that Brady and Belichick needed each other in New England, and the greatest dynasty in NFL history wouldn’t have been possible without both halves of the duo.
“I’ll just say both of those guys are great, and the greatest thing to happen to New England football was that those two guys got to be on the Patriots at the same time,” McCourty said.