NFL

Belichick and Brady 'needed each other', says former Patriots safety Harmon

By Sports Desk January 15, 2024

Former New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon has credited Bill Belichick with helping Tom Brady become the greatest player in NFL history, saying the legendary duo "needed each other".

Belichick and the Patriots parted ways last week, bringing an end to one of the most remarkable coaching tenures in league history.

The 71-year-old led the Patriots for 24 seasons, overseeing 18 playoff visits and taking the team to nine Super Bowls, winning six of those showpiece games with the most recent coming in 2019.

However, New England missed the playoffs in three of their last four seasons under Belichick, prompting team owner Robert Kraft to replace his long-serving coach with former linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Some have suggested Belichick's failure to win a Super Bowl without Brady diminishes his achievements somewhat, with the coach's overall NFL record without the quarterback standing at 85-102, but Harmon does not subscribe to that view.

"I think both those guys are motivated by one thing; being the best they can each and every day," Harmon – who played for Belichick's Patriots between 2013 and 2019 – told Stats Perform.

"Tom's job would be to be the best quarterback and rally his team. Bill's job was to be the best head coach and rally his team as well, and to make sure the coaches understand his vision so they can pass it to the players and put the best product on the field. 

"It's easy to try to put those two against each other, but I think at the end of the day, they needed each other. 

"They understand that they couldn't have accomplished what they accomplished in New England without each other.

"I think there's a great amount of respect that they have for each other. I'm still grateful and appreciative that I got to be around the greatest quarterback and the greatest head coach of all time."

Brady did manage to win one more title after he and Belichick parted ways in 2020, collecting his seventh ring by leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to glory at Super Bowl LV.

Harmon does not believe Brady was motivated by a desire to prove he could succeed without Belichick, saying: "I truly don't believe he needs any extra motivation. 

"This guy wanted to be the best player that he can be every day, whether it was with the Buccaneers, whether it was with the Patriots, he just wants to get the best out of himself every day. 

"I don't think it was, 'I want to prove I could do this without Bill', I think more so it was just him going to Tampa and doing what he does. 

"The thing that people don't realise, and I know Tom was always a great competitor, but the cultural style that came from Bill to him is what I believe gave him that extra motivation, that extra push to make Tom truly who he is. 

"As a young player, when he first took from Drew Bledsoe [in 2001], it was a very veteran-based team, so he wanted to gain the respect of not only the players, but also Bill Belichick. 

"Bill pushed him as best he could to be the best that he could be, and in the end, he became the best ever."

Having won three Super Bowls in six years in New England, Harmon is uniquely placed to offer an insight into the relationship between Belichick and Brady at the height of the Patriots' dominance.

"It was like yin and yang. It was Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson," he recalled.

"I was fortunate enough to be captain one year with the Patriots and saw how they interacted in the captains' meeting and how they were always on the same page. 

"There were times when Bill got on Tom in front of everybody, and it wasn't to demean Tom, but it was to let everybody know that there is a standard in this organisation, it doesn't matter who you are, whether you're the best player or you're the last guy on the practice squad. 

"Seeing those guys work together allowed me to see what that head coach-quarterback partnership is supposed to look like at the highest level."

Related items

  • Kelce showing no signs of retirement ahead of 2024 season with Chiefs Kelce showing no signs of retirement ahead of 2024 season with Chiefs

    Travis Kelce has no intentions of making this upcoming NFL season his last, though acknowledged the end is nearer than the beginning of his illustrious career.

    The Kansas City Chiefs star is a three-time Super Bowl champion, defeating the San Francisco 49ers for his most recent crown last season.

    With preparations already underway for the 2024 campaign, the 34-year-old – a nine-time Pro Bowler – understandably has the future on his mind.

    Yet Kelce has no doubts over his ambitions this year, signalling that there is still life in his ageing career with the Chiefs.

    "I love coming to work every single day and doing this, so I am going to do it until the wheels fall off and hopefully that doesn't happen anytime soon," Kelce said after the Chiefs' practice on Tuesday.

    "I can't put a time frame on it, man. I know that there are opportunities outside of football for me and I think you've got to keep in perspective that I'm still a little kid when I come into this building.

    "I know I'm 34 years old, about to be 35, but I have a love to do this right here in the middle of the heat in June."

    Kelce's relationship with global superstar singer Taylor Swift has drawn unprecedented media attention off the field, while he has shown interest in acting after his career ends.

    Hosting a podcast with his brother Jason, another former NFL star, Kelce has multiple options when he chooses to call time on his playing days.

    "I do take the offseason to get away and kind of recharge, but at the same time, I'm a football player," Kelce added.

    "I love playing in the NFL and this will always be my main focus, but outside of that, football ends for everybody, so kind of dipping your toes in the water and seeing what you like in different areas in different career fields, I think the offseason is the best chance you can get."

    As for on the field, the Chiefs added two tight ends this year with veteran Irv Smith Jr. and draft pick Jared Wiley. 

    Noah Gray, their fourth-leading receiver last season, is also back, suggesting Kansas coach Andy Reid is keen to manage Kelce's workload.

    "It's my job to make sure that Coach Reid has full confidence in me whenever he needs me out on that field or whenever I'm out on that field," Kelce said.

    "As much as I want to be out there every single play, I understand that it's for the better of the team when I'm not.

    "I'm more comfortable with that right now because of the guys that we have in the room. We've got a lot of great tight ends in the building and it's fun seeing them have success as well."

  • Rodgers, Reddick not attending Jets' mandatory mini-camp Rodgers, Reddick not attending Jets' mandatory mini-camp

    The New York Jets opened mandatory mini-camp on Tuesday, but neither quarterback Aaron Rodgers nor edge rusher Haason Reddick were present.

    Coach Robert Saleh said neither player was excused, meaning both are subject to fines.

    Players who miss camp without an excused absence can be fined $16,953 for missing the first day, and $33,908 for the second day for a total of $50,861.

    Saleh told reporters Rodgers' absence for the first day of camp is because he's attending something that is "very important to him."

     

    Reddick is seeking a new contract, but after he skipped last week's voluntary workouts, Saleh said he expected him to be present for the start of the team's mandatory camp.

    Rodgers, however, attended last week's workouts, as well as organised team activities throughout the off-season.

    "Aaron and I spoke before OTAs started," Saleh said. "He's been very good with communication. He's been here the entire time. It's inexcused, but he had an event that was very important to him - which he communicated."

    The four-time league MVP also told Saleh he would not attend Wednesday's work-out.

    Rodgers is returning from a torn left Achilles tendon that was sustained in the 2023 opener, ending his season just four snaps into his Jets tenure.

    Reddick was acquired by the Jets in a March trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. A two-time Pro Bowler, he had 11 sacks last season and 58 in his seven-year pro career.

  • Steelers extend long-serving head coach Tomlin through 2027 Steelers extend long-serving head coach Tomlin through 2027

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have extended the contract of long-serving head coach Mike Tomlin to run through the 2027 season, the team announced on Monday.

    Tomlin, who is set to enter his 18th season in charge of the Steelers, had seen his future become a subject of debate during an up-and-down 2023 campaign.

    Pittsburgh appeared as though they might miss the playoffs when a three-game losing streak saw them slump to 7-7 by mid-December, but they bounced back with three straight victories to finish 10-7 and make the wild-card round.

    They were then eliminated by the Buffalo Bills after benching 2022 first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett in favour of Mason Rudolph.

    Nevertheless, Tomlin maintained his record of having never endured a losing season with Pittsburgh, who he led to glory at Super Bowl XLIII to cap the 2008 season, also losing to the Green Bay Packers at Super Bowl XLV two years later.

    Tomlin's worst seasons with the Steelers came in 2012, 2013 and 2019, all of which saw them finish with an even 8-8 record.

    Confirming Tomlin's three-year extension, franchise president Art Rooney II said: "Mike Tomlin's leadership and commitment to the Steelers have been pivotal to our success during his first 17 years as head coach.

    "Extending his contract for three more years reflects our confidence in his ability to guide the team back to winning playoff games and championships, while continuing our tradition of success."

    Tomlin told the team's website: "I am appreciative for this contract extension and thankful for Art Rooney II for his support during my first 17 years in Pittsburgh.

    "We are continuing to work diligently to get back to where we belong – sustained playoff success with the ultimate goal of winning the franchise's seventh Lombardi Trophy.

    "I am very excited to get the 2024 season under way and provide our fans with a memorable year."

    The Steelers have undergone a major rebuild this offseason, revamping their QB room by bringing in Russell Wilson from the Denver Broncos and Justin Fields from the Chicago Bears, with Pickett being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The arrival of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen in free agency also bolstered the team's defense, which ranked sixth in the league for fewest points allowed per game (18.5) in 2023.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.