When Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady returns to New England in Week 4, he will see his real replacement with his old team.
It’s no longer just Brady versus his old coach, Bill Belichick, as CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan described it. Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones joined the Bucs-Patriots storyline foray amid becoming the starter upon Cam Newton’s surprising release on Tuesday.
Newton couldn’t rebuild his career with the Patriots, and his “misunderstanding” over COVID-19 protocols led to missed time in training camp. The Patriots then took Jones with the 15th pick in this year’s draft, becoming the “next Tom Brady” while drawing comparisons to the seven-time Super Bowl champion. That’s with never taking an NFL regular season snap, by the way.
Brady hasn’t directly commented on Jones, but the Bucs quarterback tweeted a video about his own draft status in 2000 shortly after ESPN’s Mel Kiper drew the Brady-Jones comparison in March. The Bucs quarterback said it “still gets me fired up” being projected as a late-round pick by Kiper. The Patriots took Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft at the 199th pick.
Jones showed promise in a highly-contested quarterback competition with Newton. According to Next Gen Stats, Jones posted the third-highest passer rating at 97.3, third-best completion percentage at 69%, the third-best and second-best total EPA and EPA per drop back among quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class in the preseason.
Pro Football Focus graded Jones the highest among first-round rookie quarterbacks in the preseason. Before Jones ever took the field, he got a big shout-out from Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett on draft night, calling the former Crimson Tide star the “best quarterback out (of) this draft” on Twitter.
Brady Gets Shot at Depleted Patriots Secondary
Brady won’t see one of his old teammates on the field in Week 4, which could give the Bucs quarterback an edge in throwing downfield.
The Patriots put cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Gilmore “will miss at least the first six games” amid recovery from quad surgery.
The former Pro Bowler had an interception and 37 tackles in 11 games for 2020 but had a big season in 2019 with six picks and 53 tackles in 16 games. Gilmore won defensive player of the year that season.
Brady has former Pro Bowlers all over the field to throw to, including former Patriots Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. It could set up Brady to pass Drew Brees for the most passing yards in NFL history that night according to CBS Sports. If Brady averages 288.5 yards per game, he could surpass the 1,154-yard gap behind Brees, who retired after the 2020 season, per CBS Sports.
Brady Congratulated By Belichick on Super Bowl LV Win?
While much will be made of the budding Brady-Belichick rivalry, it remains a mystery if Brady was ever congratulated by his former coach after leading the Bucs to a Super Bowl LV win.
“I think I’ll keep those conversations privately between myself and the other people that are involved,” Belichick said on June 16 when asked about it. “Appreciate the question.”
Brady may have planted a hint on that months earlier, saying he and Belichick have a “great relationship” according to Bleacher Report.
Either way, they’ll be rivals for three hours in a Week 4 showdown.