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New England Patriot Coach Bill Belichick occasionally outsmarts himself on the football field. But it doesn’t happen often, and that fact makes his missteps seem huge.

Belichick is like the crafty boy in that old fable, “Stone Soup.” With just a rock as lure, this boy created a stew from the ingredients of his stingy neighbors. He used what was there; he did what he needed to do.

The Patriots’ quarterback takes this mindset onto the field. Injuries dogged the team in 2015, and New England still dominated most of the NFL.

This Swiss Army knife affectation seems to work every season. Which begs the question: Does Tom Brady’s excellence make his team, especially the receivers, look better than they really are?

“Tom Brady has to be off-the-charts good… otherwise, it’s just ‘Tom Brady’,” said one NFL radio analyst. It’s unfair, but true, that the New England QB has been brilliant for so long, he is now competing against past success.

Danny Amendola. Julius Edelman. Wes Welker. Every time a competent receiver comes to the Patriots, he is elevated by the machine. Reeling in 100-plus catches in a season is a career high point for any receiver, and, under Brady, many of them have crested that mark

Belichick has perfected the art of plugging in midget receivers and monstrous tight ends. The combination of Belichick/Brady, added to the NFL’s progressively sliding scale aiding the success of offenses, has led to average and above average players receiving huge accolades. Rob Gronkowski is an amazing talent combined with his size. But even he would not have the same numbers on most other teams. Few other quarterbacks and coaches would be capable of using “Gronk” in quite the same way. Remember what happened when a true all-timer, Randy Moss, got hooked into this circuit.

There are people who mention Welker in the same breath as the best receivers we’ve ever seen, mostly because of his compiled numbers with the Patriots. Few notice that he dropped off a cliff statistically once he left town. Maybe Brady has been so good, for so long, that we take him for granted.

Some of these receivers may be future Hall of Famers. Trust that they know who butters their bread. We know that time Brady and Belichick already get loads of credit for success in Foxboro over the past fifteen years. That’s when the credit belongs.

About Author

Chris DeBrie is an American publisher, writer, cartoonist, and musician. His number one suggestion for improving television sports broadcasts is an optional "no commentary/color guys" button.