Bill Belichick's reputation as one of the greatest NFL head coaches ever is already cemented. That hasn't stopped the New England Patriots coach from carrying a massive chip on his shoulder.
The MMQB's Albert Breer reported Monday he has "heard for more than a decade that those around [Belichick] believe he wants to show he can win with the Patriots without [Tom] Brady":
"He got the franchise Mac Jones and a playoff berth last year. The next step is showing that legit championship contention is on the horizon. If Belichick can get there, too, he’'l be in better position to hand something good off to whoever the next guy in Foxborough is—which I believe is another thing he wants to do."
It's not exactly revelatory to see that motivation might have persisted for Belichick while Brady was still in New England.
In January 2018, ESPN's Seth Wickersham first reported on the growing distance between the two key figures responsible for the Patriots' dynasty. When Brady and Belichick went their separate directions, Wickersham wrote how "the relationship had run its course."
As much as the pair achieved together, it stands to reason they'd relish the challenge of seeing whether they could win without the other.
Brady already collected his seventh Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the wait for another title continues for Belichick.
The fact that the 70-year-old got New England to the playoffs in 2021 was an achievement in its own right, though.
"You could say this is the best job he's ever done," former Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody said to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. "He goes out and signs a slew of free agents in the offseason. Then drafts Mac Jones, fifth out of the 'Big 5' [of first-round quarterbacks] and proceeds to put that team together.
"It's not easy to blend together a bunch of free agents and get a rookie quarterback ready to go in that culture. To be able to do that, and get that team back in the postseason, that's a really, really good coaching job."
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero spoke to an AFC executive who said Belichick "kind of reinvented himself" with how he turned the Patriots back into a postseason team.
After spending nearly two decades attempting to maintain a Super Bowl contender each and every year, it must feel refreshing to start over from scratch. And Belichick would probably love nothing more than to match Brady's championship haul.