Patriots fans haven't had to fret all that much throughout Tom Brady's 20-year-run in New England, especially when it comes to the team's ability to consistently drive down the field and capitalize against opposing defenses.
Since Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001, here's a look at where the Patriots have ranked among NFL clubs in terms of points scored per season:
2001: 6th place
2002: 10th place
2003: 12th place
2004: 4th place
2005: 10th place
2006: 7th place
2007: 1st place
2008: 8th place (with Matt Cassel)
2009: 6th place
2010: 1st place
2011: 3rd place
2012: 1st place
2013: 3rd place
2014: 4th place
2015: 3rd place
2016: 3rd place
2017: 2nd place
2018: 4th place
2019: 7th place
Not too shabby.
But with Brady now heading down to Tampa, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are now tasked with finding a new centerpiece for their offense — an endeavor that has doomed many franchises in wake of their franchise signal-caller departing, while also working out splendidly for a choice few. As we prepare for the Jarrett Stidham era (or whatever else Belichick has planned), here's a look at how teams built their squads, and fared when their franchise quarterbacks either retired or moved on.
DEFENSE WILL LEAD US
Dan Marino - Miami Dolphins (1983-1999)
Average wins per season during Marino’s tenure as starter: 9.5
Overall record: 163-107
Record In Last Season as starter (1999): 9-7
Dolphins Offensive Points/Yardage Ranking in 1999: 13th/20th
Dolphins Passing Yards in 1999: 3,485 (14th)
Dolphins Passing Yards Per Game in 1999: 217.8 (14th)
Dolphins Net Yards Gained Per Pass Attempt in 1999: 5.6 (20th)
Dolphins Completion Percentage in 1999: 55.9% (23rd)
Game-Winning Drives by Quarterback in 1999: 3
Marino opted to retire following the 1999 season after fielding offers during the offseason from teams like the Vikings and Buccaneers.
Dolphins Record in 2000: 11-5
Dolphins Offensive Points/Yardage Ranking in 2000: 16th/26th
Dolphins Passing Yards in 2000: 2,567 (27th)
Dolphins Passing Yards Per Game in 2000: 160.4 (27th)
Dolphins Net Yards Gained Per Pass Attempt in 2000: 5.7 (16th)
Dolphins Completion Percentage in 2000: 57.7% (17th)
Game-Winning Drives by Quarterback in 1999: 2
3-year record: 31-17
By the time Marino retired, the Dolphins appeared primed for a major rebuild — especially when it came to remaking their offense. The pool of potential successors for Marino was rather underwhelming, with the 2000 Dolphins choosing between backup Damon Huard and former Jaguars backup Jay Fiedler.
Granted, Marino's final years were a far cry from the aerial assault he regularly orchestrated during his early seasons in Miami — with the Fins averaging just 217.8 passing yards per game (14th overall) and posting a 55.9 completion percentage (23rd overall) in his final season. But handing the ball off to a backup like Fiedler led to some expected mediocre results — with Miami dropping to 27th in the NFL in passing yards per game and 26th overall in total yardage. A stout Miami defense bailed the club out in 2000 en route to an 11-5 record, but failing to find a suitable, young replacement in the post-Marino era led to many years in the AFC East basement for the Dolphins — who have failed to crack the top 10 in points scored or yardage in any season since 2001.
Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos (2012-15)