Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are unlike any coach-quarterback pair in NFL history, certainly in terms of personality and image, and even more so in terms of football numbers.
The duo’s 136 wins already ranks first all-time among coach-quarterback combos. Of the 10 times they have reached the postseason together, they have at least reached the Super Bowl half of those times. And of course, there are the three Super Bowl titles won in the first half of the past decade (2001, 2003, 2004 seasons).
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Football mortality, however, is something that Belichick and Brady have been fielding questions on more and more over the past few years. Belichick, of course, has been mostly tight-lipped about his future – both immediate and down the line. Brady first told us that he would like to play until he’s 40 (he’s 36 now). And this year he told us that he would like to play until he’s 50.
While reaching the latter goal is highly unlikely, especially given the fact that the average NFL player’s career length is somewhere in the neighborhood of five years total, 40 is attainable for Brady.
Belichick, meanwhile, is now 61-years-old and said in his “Football Life” documentary that he wanted to avoid becoming this generation’s Marv Levy by coaching up until his 70th birthday.
How long will the Belichick/Brady magic last in Foxboro? It’s anyone’s guess. More intriguing is when, or if, the two will hoist the Lombardi Trophy again. If they are to do it at the Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey in February, it would come following a 2013 preseason that featured an abundance of personnel questions.
Will Danny Amendola stay healthy? Can he replace Wes Welker? Is their entire two tight end scheme on offense ruined now that Aaron Hernandez is in jail and Rob Gronkowski seems to be one more big injury away from retirement? Will Brady be able to thrive with the fresh faces at wide receiver and tight end? Will the veterans on defense finally come together to give New England one of the better defensive units in the league once again? Will the secondary finally get its act together? Will Stevan Ridley be able to hold onto the ball and become the feature back that most envision him to be?
All of the answers to those daunting questions will likely have to be a “yes” if the New England Patriots are to fulfill their annual grand expectation. After all, despite all the winning done by the most consistent team in all of pro sports these past 12 years, it’s been 3,134 days since they won big.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS