New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick will try to win their fifth Super Bowl in their record seventh appearance in a championship game, which is more than any other QB-coach pairing in history.
Who deserves more credit for the Patriots’ run, though? "Undisputed" welcomed former NFL head coach Eric Mangini -- who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots --to the show Monday to debate whether Brady or Belichick has been more valuable to the Patriots.
Eric Mangini: It's impossible to be as successful as the Patriots without a legendary QB
"This is a really hard question for me, but when I have to make a decision, I’ve gotta go with Tom Brady.
"It’s really difficult to win in the NFL without a quarterback, it’s obviously impossible to win in the NFL for as long as they have without a quarterback like Tom Brady. Now, that being said, Tom’s first year in New England … Tom wasn’t the Tom Brady that we know.
"We kept four quarterbacks, he used to work every day after practice, and there were some really rough periods. And Bill saw traits in him that he wanted to develop. And Bill giving him that chance to develop, giving him a year to become the player that he eventually became … it’s a marriage that works well for both of them, but at the end of the day I have to go with the quarterback."
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Eric Mangini: Belichik deserves credit for giving Brady a chance to develop
Skip: "Were you shocked that Bill plunged and said, ‘I’m going to trade Drew Bledsoe,’ a multiple- time Pro Bowl QB, and keep Tom Brady who had struggled down the stretch?"
Shannon: "Also who had taken the Patriots to the Super Bowl and just signed a $100 million contract two years prior."
Eric Mangini: "Well that’s one of the great things about Bill Belichick is he’ll make a decision, and once he makes that decision, he’s going forward with it. I remember in Cleveland you had the Bernie Kosar situation, where he thought Bernie was done. He wanted to move on from him, he brought in Vinny Testaverde. And that’s part of what he does that makes him so good, is that efficiency and those difficult decisions - when everybody else is saying ‘this is impossible, you shouldn’t do that.’ Was I shocked by it? No, not knowing [Bill]. And Tom had those traits, you could see it, it was just a function of when was all the things he had going to materialize into [becoming]the player he is."
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Belichick has proven he can win without Brady
"For me, I’m going to say Coach Belichick. It’s really hard to say unless one is gone for an extended period of time without the other, and I don’t know if we might see that. When Tom’s done, hangs it up, coach Belichick [might say] ‘well I’m outta here too.’
"But I’m going to say Coach Belichick because I’ve seen him build this system, and I’ve seen him in 19 games without Tom Brady be 13-6. I have yet to see Tom Brady play without coach Belichick.
Also, top-10 scoring defenses. 13 of the last 16 seasons, that’s what the New England Patriots have had. Now coaches can install any system they want, but it’s a lot easier to implement that system when your best player is your hardest worker, so everybody else will get on board with you. And that’s what [Belichick] has in Tom Brady."
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Shannon: Belichick has weathered a number of coaching changes in New England
"It’s coach Belichick that’s bringing all the pieces, all Tom Brady has to do is play football. Coach Belichick has to make all the tough decisions. Who comes, who stays? Who do I trade for?
"And think about … Coach Mangini’s gone. Romeo Crennel left. Charlie Weis is gone. Josh McDaniels left. Bill O’Brien. Now Josh turned around and came back. All these auxiliary pieces, both of these guys are still there, but I’m willing to give Coach Belichick a lot more credit than other people will. And I understand that you need that quarterback, but to have this kind of sustained success, I think the coach is of utmost importance."
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Eric Mangini: Belichick didn’t have success as a head coach before Tom Brady arrived
"Well the one thing I’ll say, though, remember [that] Bill had six seasons as a head coach prior to Tom Brady, and there’s only one winning season in those six years.
"So when you want to look at one without the other … and that’s what made me lean toward Tom.
"It’s really hard for me, because I don’t think either one of them is where they are today without the other. If Bill didn’t give Tom that year, let’s say Bill just cut Tom. ... He’s a sixth-round draft pick. It’s not like he was tearing it up at practice. [Bill] kept him purely based on traits, and that came from his experience in Cleveland. That came from his experience of being patient enough to let a guy develop. If that doesn’t happen, who knows where the Tom Brady story goes."
David Butler IIIDavid Butler III-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: You couldn’t dream up a quarterback better than Tom Brady
"Not only does [Belichick] have a Tom Brady, not only is he, as you say, the greatest quarterback ever, he’s also the greatest leader ever as far as what you would want. You couldn’t go into a lab and create a better quarterback intangibly than a guy who takes less money to play, he wants no public credit for what happens on the field. He doesn’t criticize the head coach. He doesn’t criticize anybody. To a fault, almost, he has no real rough edges publicly that anybody can latch onto. So how could you draw up a better quarterback to have for all those years?
"And now he’s at 39, and he’s having, arguably, his best season ever at 39. To me, Brady made Bill more than Bill made Brady."