Tom Brady was the ultimate long shot after being drafted 199th overall in the 2000 draft by the New England Patriots; so thought an entire league of a college prospect who struggled to find playing time despite being called "smart" and "a classic quarterback" by his coaches, according to Charles P. Pierce in NMoving the Chains".
In fact, Brady's biggest misfortune was having to play behind the son of Bob Griese, and then flashy, upstart Drew Henson. But Brady proved to be the better quarterback, leading Michigan to four victories in their final four games and a birth in the Orange Bowl, where Brady pulled out the unbelievable overtime win against Alabama.
Despite this success, pro scouts ignored his "immeasurables", and described him as virtually unfit to play quarterback in the NFL. But Brady had talent that could not be measured. And that is what Belichick saw and drafted.
Fast forward to the 2013 off-season and Mr. Brady has three Super Bowl wins and numerous records under his belt, all as a New England Patriot. He also has ensured that he will retire as the greatest Patriot of all time, signing an extension that will see him turn 40 in a Patriot uniform. Of course, Brady may be able and willing to play longer, but that is another story.
Patriot fans have gotten used to winning, so much so that many seem to become disenfranchised when the team falls short of the coveted Lombardi Trophy.
It is in these times that the question comes to mind of the state of the franchise if and when Tommy is no longer able to take the field. And as great as Brady has been for Patriot nation, we need only look at the 2008 season and a nearly catastrophic situation, namely: the ACL injury in game one against Kansas City that stole an entire season from the career of one of the game's best.
Bill Belichick's system made a winner out of an otherwise average quarterback in Matt Cassell; but it was a season that saw an enormous drop in production from the previous, record-breaking performance of the aforementioned Tom Brady and his cohorts. Tom Brady would return to form, but Cassell would take a dive that spelled the end of any success in his career.
Bill Belichick will need to pull, a miracle out of his hat once again. Tom Brady cannot play forever. So what are the options for a team that may have to fill the shoes of the Hall of Famer now under center? I give you these four:
1. Belichick discovers the fountain of youth and collects a lifetime supply for Brady. Okay... seriously...
2. Ryan Mallett continues to develop under the tutelage of Belichick and Brady and patiently waits his turn, whether it be another four years as official clip board holder for Brady or emergency fill-in, much like Brady was for Bledsoe.
If Tom plays out his contract (and then some) for the Patriots, this is unlikely, as Mallett is sure to get interest from other teams and want to start sooner rather than later. Strong, steady quarterbacks are at a premium in this league and he would certainly receive an offer he could not refuse.
3. Tim Tebow follows a similar regimen and hones his skills and learns all the right habits from Brady and becomes the QB everybody thought he would be coming out of college.
I actually like this scenario, if Tebow insists on playing as QB in this league and is willing to bide his time. Under Bill Belichick, he just may have his best shot at making that dream come true.
4. Belichick finds his new golden boy in the draft and/or trade and pulls off the greatest coup in sports history. I wrote previously about a kid that just might fit the bill in this article. Belichick has done it before, he can do it again. The Colts had to endure their worst nightmare to find a replacement for Peyton Manning; though Patriot fans hope that the transition would go much smoother for their beloved Pats.
Tom Brady was a sixth round pick. Regardless of round, quarterbacks are such a mixed bag when it comes to talent for the next level of play, as illustrated in this article. Every team takes a huge chance when drafting their next, hopeful franchise QB.
Even the greatest coaches hit or miss with startling regularity. Belichick has had his busts, as well as, his steals.
But I have to put my trust in Coach Belichick and his ability to find the one kid who will bring all the intangibles that he found in Brady, along with the drive to succeed against all odds.
I think that is the best case scenario for the Patriots, and who better to pull it off than Bill Belichick.