A popular topic on sports talk radio is whether Brady or Belichick is more responsible for the team's success. The correct answer is "Yes." Hard work is a large part of it no doubt, but there were hard decisions and some big-time luck along the way. The opportunities arose and they took advantage.
Bill Belichick kept the fourth-string Tom Brady on the roster for the 2000 season even though NFL teams never carry four quarterbacks, elevated him to second string ahead of QBs who had been with the team longer, and kept him as the starter in 2001 even when the highly-paid Drew Bledsoe came back from injury ready to play. In the subsequent 17 years, Brady's maniacal devotion to his craft has resulted in more wins and as many NFL championships (not forgetting Bart Starr) as any QB ever.
What would have happened if the Browns, then as now the worst team in the NFL, had taken Brady with the 183rd pick instead of the immortal Spergon Wynn III, a QB out of SW Texas St? Wynn saw action in 10 NFL games, throwing 1 TD and 7 interceptions. To date, Brady has played in 290 games and thrown 559 TD passes, including playoffs. If drafted by the Browns, would Brady have saved Chris Palmer's job? After all, Palmer had been a QB coach in 1996 (with Bledsoe in New England) before moving up the food chain and getting an HC job. But Palmer was fired after 2000 with a career record of 5-27. His successor Butch Davis actually had a couple of respectable seasons but he was saddled with QBs like Tim Couch and the ancient Jeff Garcia. What would Brady have done in the QB graveyard of Cleveland? Would his now-famous devotion have carried him to the top, or would have the ineptitude around him have crushed his spirit (and his body) and turned him into another David Carr?
Which brings us to an unheralded player named Chris Streveler. After three seasons at the University of Minnesota, Streveler seemed to be on track to switching from QB to receiver. Even in his only start and win as a QB against San Jose St, he did far more damage with his running (161 yards) than his passing. Streveler decided he still wanted to be a QB and took advantage of the grad transfer rule to arrive at the University of South Dakota in 2016 with two years of eligibility. After a good first season, Streveler exploded onto the FCS national stage in 2017. He averaged 363 yards of total offense with 43 touchdowns in 13 games and led South Dakota to its first FCS playoff appearance.
Despite these performances on the field, excellent measurables for athleticism, and the fact that a QB from the same FCS conference (Carson Wentz) was a contender for NFL MVP, Streveler went undrafted. After an interview with the Bears, an even bigger QB graveyard than Cleveland, he decided to go the CFL route. He signed with Winnipeg May 4 with the expectation he would compete for the third-string spot. Then the backup retired. Then the starter got hurt in practice. Then he beat out the remaining competition to become the starting quarterback for the Blue Bombers. In his first game he threw three TDs but had a few mistakes and lost to Edmonton 33-30.
In his second game last night against Montreal, he threw three more TDs, ran for 98 yards and another TD, and was pulled in the 4th quarter with a 30-point lead. One of the headlines in Canada read, "Streveler Poised and Near-Perfect in First Professional Win." It really isn't a surprise to those who saw what he did last year. The guy is a gunslinger, and if he goes down he's going to put on a show and make you earn it. Even in the loss in the FCS playoffs last year, he accounted for 571 yards and six TDs.
Someone employed by an NFL team thought Spergon Wynn was better than Tom Brady. Wynn was good enough to start games in the CFL, throwing 11 TD passes in four CFL seasons. Streveler already has six TD passes.
Maybe he's a flash in the pan. Maybe he'll be good in Canada but it will never translate to the NFL. Or maybe he just needs the opportunity with a good NFL team (i.e. not the Browns or Bears), as Brady had so many years ago. But after two weeks, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are damn glad they have the guy who the Golden Goophers wanted to turn into a receiver. Fans in Minnesota are left wondering how the Goopher coaching staff whiffed so badly on a dynamic playmaker who got pulled in his second pro game to keep from running up the score. Another headline after last night's games read, "Johnny Manziel remains firmly planted on the bench in the CFL." Manziel, now known for failing to take advantage of opportunities that few are given. The best young QB in the CFL after two weeks, the real Johnny Football, is a South Dakota grad named Chris.