We finally made it.
This is the week Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will make his much-anticipated return to Gillette Stadium to play the his former team, the New England Patriots, in a "Sunday Night Football" matchup.
It's the first -- and likely last time -- Brady will play against the Patriots in Foxboro.
There's going to be a lot of discussion this week about Brady's decision to leave New England as a free agent in 2020. Who's to blame? Should/could he have stayed?
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked several Brady-related questions during his weekly Monday morning interview on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show". Here's one interesting exchange from the interview.
Question: “Bill, over the course of you and Tom’s time together, you said dozens of times that there was no quarterback you would rather have. When did that change?”
Belichick: “It never changed."
Question: "So, you wanted Tom to re-sign here after the 2019 season?"
Belichick: "I think we've been through all the dynamics of that. There were a lot of things there. He looked at his options and made a decision. We weren’t as good of an option as Tampa. So, I mean, you’d have to ask him about all that. But that really wasn’t a question about not wanting him -- that’s for sure.”
In Brady's defense, the Bucs were in fact a better option for him than the Patriots at that time.
He went to a team with two of the league's best wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay later added another elite wideout in Antonio Brown, in addition to trading for tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Even though the Bucs' defense has struggled a bit to begin the 2021 season, that unit is still loaded with talent at many positions and played very well during the 2020 playoffs.
Simply put, the Buccaneers were closer to contending than the Patriots after the 2019 campaign. All the Bucs needed was an upgrade at quarterback over Jameis Winston, and Brady provided that with his 40-touchdown season en route to winning another Super Bowl.
The Patriots, meanwhile, likely have found their next franchise quarterback in rookie Mac Jones. The Alabama product struggled in a Week 3 loss to the Saints, but overall through three games he's been solid.