New England Patriots

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks the field during warm-ups as quarterback Tom Brady (12) stands in the background before Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

The New England Patriots are currently projected to have the most difficult schedule in the NFL in 2020. This after losing the most decorated quarterback in league history, too, with Tom Brady’s decision to depart the Patriots for a two-year, fully-guaranteed contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Bill Belichick didn’t sound like a worried man during a Thursday night conversation with the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.

“Well, we’ve played at other times without Tom,” Belichick began. “Whether it was the ’08 season after he was injured — we played 15 games with [Matt] Cassel and went 11-5. Or heading into the ’16 season with Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then Jacoby [Brissett] and Tom coming back after the four-game suspension. So there have been other points in time where we’ve dealt with that.”

And to Belichick’s point, the Patriots did more than ‘dealt with’ the loss of Brady. They went 10-5 with Cassel as their starter in 2008, and the Jimmy G-Jacoby tandem went 3-1 during Brady’s suspension in 2016, giving the Patriots a solid 13-6 record in non-Brady starts over the last 12 years. They’ll look for something similar in 2020, too, whether it’s from veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer or second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, who earned some praise from Belichick in his convo with Eisen.

“Stidham worked really hard last year,” Belichick noted. “I know he’s working hard in the offseason, he’s made a lot of progress in terms of understanding our offense and understanding opponent defenses. Like all players do from Year 1 to Year 2.

“I’m sure he’ll get out there, be ready to go, be prepared, compete hard, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

But no matter the man tasked with replacing Brady under center next season, Belichick’s approach won’t change.

“We’ll do what we always do, which is try to prepare the team the best that we can, utilize our players and the skills that they have and put ourselves in the best position we can to be competitive and win,” said Belichick. “That’s what we always do, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.