It’s time to find out who the Tom Brady frauds were

It’s time to find out who the Tom Brady frauds were

The Wicked (Good) Quarterback of the (AFC) East is gone.

Tom Brady, 42, officially is leaving New England after 19 years of utter dominance — tormenting the Jets, Bills and Dolphins in particular.

So, now what?

Maybe, upon hearing the news Tuesday, officials from the Jets, Bills and Dolphins spent some of the day dancing down the hallways of their team facilities. Maybe they even popped a bottle or three of bubbly.

But now, the reality of a new world sets in: They no longer have Brady as an excuse for their failure to win the AFC East.

Adam Gase and the Jets, Brian Flores and the Dolphins, Sean McDermott and the Bills, it’s your move.

The Patriots, as we sit here today, have two quarterbacks on their roster: Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler.

Stidham has thrown four NFL regular-season passes, three of which came against the Jets. Kessler has started 12 NFL games and has a 2-10 record.

Surely, that’ll change in time, whether the Patriots bring in Andy Dalton or Jacoby Brissett or whoever else becomes available. But the fact is this: The Patriots are as vulnerable as they’ve been in two decades, which means the AFC East is there for the taking.

Patriots backers can try to comfort themselves into believing the “Patriot Way’’ will carry them through, regardless of who’s behind center. But they’d be misinformed or just plain delusional if they think there’s such a thing as the “Patriot Way’’ without Brady.

Sam Darnold and Adam Gase talk on the New York Jets sideline.

Brady compiled a mind-boggling 86-22 regular-season record against AFC East opponents during his New England tenure. He was 32-3 against the Bills, 29-7 against the Jets and 23-12 against the Dolphins.

Now, those three teams no longer have to deal with the GOAT twice per season.

How fascinating to see if they can take advantage and, you know, maybe wrest the AFC East division title away from the Patriots for a change after they have won 17 of the past 19 (including the last 11) with Brady.

The Jets got a brief glimpse of Stidham in their 30-14 loss in New England last September when Bill Belichick put the rookie in for Brady with New England leading 30-7 in the fourth quarter.

Stidham promptly sailed a pick-six gift into the arms of Jets safety Jamal Adams. And, even with the Jets having no chance to come back and win the game, Belichick had seen enough, yanking Stidham and reinserting Brady to finish.

The Jets, with still-developing Sam Darnold, who’s about to begin his third season, now have a better starting quarterback than the Patriots do for the first time in two decades.

Now’s the time to pounce. Time to answer some questions.

Gase becomes the first Jets head coach since before Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles to have a crack at the Patriots without Brady. That increases the pressure on him to produce after a disappointing 7-9 season in 2019.

As for Belichick, who’s been hailed as perhaps the greatest NFL head coach ever with the six Super Bowl titles he won with Brady, how will he fare without the quarterback he picked as a project in the sixth round of the 2000 draft who became not only the face of the franchise but of the league?

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots clasp hands after a win.

Belichick has a 136-39 won-loss record with Brady as his starting quarterback. He’s 51-65 without him.

Those are stark and damning numbers that can lead you to wonder how good a head coach Belichick really is without Brady.

That isn’t totally fair to Belichick, of course, because the bulk of those non-Brady numbers came when he was coaching the Browns.

Still, just like Gase and the rest of the AFC East, Belichick has questions to answer with Brady now gone.

Has this unprecedented dominance these past 19 seasons been a result of the “Patriot Way’’ created and cultivated by Belichick, or has it really been the “Brady Way’’?

This is the most delicious subplot to the 2020 NFL season.

Belichick or Brady? Who was most responsible for the staggering success?

There’s been speculation in recent years that Belichick looked forward to one day showing he could win without Brady, something that would cement his place as the greatest NFL coach of all time.

If that’s the case, here’s his chance.

Here, too, is a chance for the Jets, Bills and Dolphins.

Ready, set … go.

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