Me earlier this month, when the Chargers were the expected landing spot and people were floating the idea of the 49ers trading Jimmy:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I’m surprised this isn’t a bigger actual rumor. Winston appears to be on his way out (provided he doesn’t intercept himself) and Tampa is honestly a lot closer than a lot of people realize. Bruce Arians would probably love an old fart smartypants like Brady who could understand his system, plus a defense and Mike Evans! This is honestly a superb fit. Also TB stands for Tom Brady and Tampa Bay. Think of the merchandise!

I can’t say I called it, because I still expected him to go back to New England, but I will say I saw this as a big option when (from my vantage point at least) nobody was really considering it yet. I’ve had a lot of family members and friends who aren’t as deep into football as I am asking me about it, seemingly very puzzled as to why this was his choice out of everywhere he’d go. I always thought this was actually one of the best options for him. Tampa was a smart QB away from making the playoffs last year. They are absolutely loaded at WR (Something Brady has been missing, especially in 2019). They have a smart coach with an excellent offensive mind who requires a smart QB to really understand his system; Brady is a student of the game with roughly 10 decades of experience. They have a defense to shoulder the burden and keep it from being Brady Airmail 24/7. It was an NFC team, away from his usual haunts, on a franchise with very little history regarding his previous employer, so no weird baggage. On top of that, they seem to be willing to let him Lebron the team, apparently offering him some degree of roster control. LeBrady. If there is a QB who could command that, and maybe actually deserve it, it’s the guy who kisses his own son on the mouth.

I’m incredibly excited for this move in so many ways. We are finally in a new era. Yes, Belichick is still running the Pats. Yes, Brady is still in the league. But this is new. It is fresh. Best of all, we can finally start to address the biggest question to Brady’s legacy. Is he a system QB?

Despite already being considered the greatest player of all time (The GPOAT, if you will), this is the one criticism that Brady has never been able to truly shake off. How much of his success is due to Tom Brady, and how much of it is due to Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization? Peyton Manning took 4 coaches to a super bowl, and two of those coaches were ass. Hell you could even make a case Tony Dungy wasn’t a big reason for the Colts success. Peyton always felt like the main reason his teams had success (outside his final year). You could never really make that argument with Brady, because he always had the emperor running the show. Is Tom Brady the Tom Brady we know and love if he’s stuck on the Chargers or Panthers or god forbid, the Browns? We will never truly know how much success is due to his circumstances compared to his actual ability, because Tom Brady has also been one of the most fortunate players in existence. It must be nice playing in a division that never put up much genuine competition for 2 decades.

If Tom goes out and wins a Super Bowl with Tampa, that’s it. No possible criticism can remain. No blemish on his legacy to be whispered in dark corners. Even noted haters like myself would be forced to capitulate and hail our overlord. There’s even a part of me that is rooting for him to go out and do it.

On the other hand, if Tom doesn’t win and the Patriots do, that’s damaging to his legacy in ways that excite me. If Bill Belichick wins a super bowl with Andy Dalton or someone similar, I will forever scream SYSTEM QB from the rooftops with such glee I might get arrested for scaring old ladies. Please note, I honestly don’t want either of these scenarios. I’d rather not see either the Patriots or Tom Brady in the super bowl again. I’ve had quite enough of that.

I also don’t expect either of them back. Tom wasn’t really the issue last year in New England and a new QB isn’t going to fix their line or add good weapons. I can only see a Russ type QB doing okay on that offense. Dalton is going to have the same problems and be worse. Cam isn’t really elusive so he’d get hurt. If the Patriots swindle the Texans for Watson, then we are in trouble. But Tom also has a tougher road. He’s only got a couple seasons left, and now he’s in a division that doesn’t suck. The Saints are led by another all-time great and are a better team. The Falcons show up from time to time in the Matt Ryan era. The Panthers are rebuilding so they aren’t much threat, yet. Tom could lead this team to the playoffs and still end up as the wildcard thanks to the Saints.

I think ultimately this is a case of the band breaking up thanks to big egos, but those two egos working together is what made the band work. Fun Dave lore: I’ve been a massive Pink Floyd fan since high school. They were my defining band as a youth. I see Tom Brady and Belichick as David Gilmour and Roger Waters. Waters was the brains and the leader, a man with impeccable artistic vision. But Gilmour was the soul. Pink Floyd fractured when the two of them stopped being able to work together, but it’s pretty clear that they needed each other to really bring out the best in the music. Waters post-Floyd is a lot of weird concept work and artsy crap that isn’t that enjoyable to listen to, seemingly more interesting in theory than execution. The Gilmour-led Pink Floyd era is mostly meandering forgettable fluff. The two of them brought out the best in each other. Tom and Bill brought out the best in each other, and I don’t think either of them will find the same success without one another. It was a magical chance pairing, and it’s over now.

Thank god for that.