As the New England Patriots prepare for another Super Bowl run, led of course by the never aging 40 year-old Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham dropped a story last Friday outlining rifts in the relationship between Timeless Tom, and Brilliant Bill, creating problems withing the Patriots organization.
The conflicts creating the schism are Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, and the trading of Jimmy Garoppolo, as the Pats enter their second decade of success under Belichick.
According to Wichersham, the trio of Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, have had “serious disagreements” in the past few months:
“They differ on Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.”
This could very well be the last season that Brady and Belichick will be together, with one of the reasons being the power struggle between the trio. The others being that there are head coaching vacancies in Arizona, Detroit, Indianapolis, and New York and both offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are likely to interview for those jobs and move on from New England.
Wickerhsham spoke with a freind of Brady’s, “Tom changed,” they said. “That’s where a lot of these problems started.” Problems with Alex Guerrero first surfaced in early September when Belichick banned him from the sidelines.
Early in the season, it seemed there was pressure for young players to buy into Brady’s training methods, he dubbed TB12; which has been described as “like a cult” by a Patriots staffer. Many players “felt pressured to train at TB12 than with the team.”
Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014 after the Patriots completed the season as Super Bowl Champions, many saw this as the end of Tom Brady. It’s not like the Pats hadn’t drafted QB’s during Brady’s reign, but Garoppolo was the first QB drafted by New England since Ryan Mallet in 2011, essentially the peak of Brady’s career, so there was no immediate threat to his job.
While Wickersham’s article may make it seem that Kraft forced the Garoppolo trade on Brilliant Bill, he made it clear that that wasn’t the case on a “SportsCenter” appearance Friday. Belichick has stated publicly that he didn’t want Jimmy G to be traded, but there were limited options for him according to Wickersham and Garopollos agent, Don Yee. Yee and G had rejected offers of $17-$18 million per year.
Two weeks before the Nov. 1 trade deadline, Belichick and Kraft had a meeting that ran half the day, ending with a “clear mandate,” “trade Garoppolo” and then “find the best quarterback in the draft and develop him.”
Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for just a second round pick, an absolute steal for the Niners. Belichick was “furious and demoralized” while Brady seemed to celebrate the trading of his stud backup, which he has since denied. It is also reported that Brady went over Belichick’s head to ownership to trade Garoppolo, but there is no validity to that claim.
Clearing the air?
Wickersham reported in his story that the trio were supposed to meet in late December to “clear the air” but no such meeting has occurred, and may not until the Patriots season ends, which will be sometime between this Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday.
The Pats seem to be in an odd spot even while holding the no. 1 seed in the AFC for the seventh time this century. Belichick and McDaniels are “grinding harder than ever” in search for a sixth Lombardi Trophy and possibly hopes of healing some wounds.