The New England Patriots have had a solid core of players on the roster throughout Tom Brady’s tenure, but who are the best No. 12 has played with?
Tom Brady’s success with the New England Patriots has been a polarizing topic over the years. Some argue that he’s the greatest quarterback who ever played the game, if not the greatest at any position. Others argue that he’s a product of Bill Belichick’s system.
The same people who tout Brady’s greatness also cite a lack of star-power on the New England rosters during the Brady era. Others argue that the Patriots quarterback has always been surrounded by solid, if not elite talent at key positions.
Is Brady’s ability to effectively execute multiple offensive schemes during his tenure the biggest reason for the Patriot dynasty? Or does New England owe more of its success to the defensive schemes of Bill Belichick and the talent the Patriots have had on that side of the ball over the years?
Why can’t it be all of those things?
Tom Brady has always made the most of what he has had to work with — albeit with varying results. The Patriots have not had a single losing season since he took over under center in 2001. Offensively, he’s had a healthy combination of elite players mixed with guys who simply know how to do their jobs and do them well.
On the defensive side of the ball, the head coach and defensive genius in the hoodie always seems to have a stingy unit made up of a combination of bargain-bin free agents and perennial Pro Bowlers.
I went back through the record books and rosters and tried to find the 10 best New England Patriots (regardless of position) during the Brady era not named Tom Brady. An exercise like this is highly subjective and a lot of it depends on personal preference in terms of personalities and playing styles. That said, let’s see where we landed.