Laird: Chalk one up for the coach in the battle between Brady vs. Belichick


Bill Belichick was not about to trust Lieutenant Jarrett Stidham with the outcome of the major battle to come this fall, the one that likely will determine the ultimate legacy of who-made-who in the Six-Lombardi Patriots Dynasty.

Enter Major General Cameron Jerrell Newton.

Newton wasn’t ‘The Plan’. If he was, he’d have been signed months ago.

No, this is Belichick’s summer salvo. A retort to Brady’s troops gathering forces on the Southern border and frolicking in the sun. It’s a New England marriage of convenience, an obvious mercenary play from Newton and an addition of a highly decorated field commander for Belichick that buys some time and might allow a tactical victory for Bill in the 2020 Covid season.

Since I’m knee-deep in war references I can’t escape, let’s call the signing of Newton this conflict’s Battle of Antietam. In the fall of 1862, that strategic win by the Union changed mindsets around the country and the world. It wasn’t the endgame, but it made an impact.

And Belichick needs to make an impact this fall. He’s all-in on this fight for Patriots immortality with Brady. At this rate, he’ll probably take back defensive play-calling from his son Steve by the preseason. He can’t let Brady sail free with the Buccaneers while the Pats joylessly spin their wheels in the Foxboro mud.

Newton brings the fun to a place Brady and others would have you believe there is none.

Just ask Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who told ESPN on Tuesday that “we are really getting ready to see how fun that offense can really be.”

Moss continued: “Not discrediting anything Tom accomplished because he accomplished some great things, but I think being able to have a guy like Cam Newton that can run the ball, they are able to spread guys out, and then being able to be that viable threat in the passing game that he can just tuck the ball and run. We are going to see them have a lot more fun out there and Cam Newton is going to give them that opportunity for the fans, not just the New England Patriots fans, but the football fans around the world to really see how fun this offense can be.”

If Moss wasn’t still on Robert Kraft’s payroll before those statements, he surely is now. It’s a direct rebuttal to the recent Brady narrative - through his throwing coach Tom House - that “football is fun again” with Rob Gronkowksi alongside him in Tompa Bay; i.e. football wasn’t fun with Bill last year.

Well, take that, Tom. Football is fun here without you.

And of course, Brady couldn’t help himself but respond on Tuesday to Julian Edelman’s social media picture with Newton at his side to the hashtag “#LetsWork”; jealous Tom responded with the winking-emoji capped “I will always be your #1.”

The Newton signing is driving jilted-lover Brady crazy. It’s Belichick brilliance, a wish-you-were-here postcard from Nantucket addressed to “the most miserable 8-0 quarterback in the NFL.”

Those quotes from the “giddy” Mohamed Sanu to ex-ESPNer Josina Anderson must cut Brady deep as well: “This is crazy. He’s a big powerful leader. All he has to do is go be Cam. He’s an MVP. Wow.”

The McCourty twins' podcast was full of excitement at the news of the Newton addition, and the football world is buzzing again about New England’s chances to get back to a Super Bowl. Our own Jermaine Wiggins is even back to honking it up for his team this week, predicting rookie Devin Asiasi to have a better year than Gronkowski with 80 catches en route to a Pats 12th-straight division title.

With Newton in the fold, Belichick has created buzz. And he’s solidified his reputation as a shrewd and fiscally responsible general manager to boot. 

The truth is, it’s most likely a sign that Belichick didn’t like what he was seeing this offseason from Stidham’s leadership and development. Bill needed to stall, the Stidham sink-or-swim season was just too risky a play with too much at stake.

Let Stidham be the man who replaces the man who replaced The Man. It’s the smart play.

It’s been a solid summer for Belichick. He’s making The North proud, winning back the fans. And if the Patriots somehow pull it off and win the AFC, he will swing many once-entrenched ‘Brady over Belichick’ supporters like myself to his side of the legacy debate.