Sam’s Section: The Patriots have hit rock bottom, and Bill Belichick may be to blame 

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks into his headset on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP Photo.

It’s a headline I never thought I would write. Bill Belichick is the greatest head coach in NFL history. He’s an eight-time Super Bowl champion after winning six with the Patriots and two as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. He is a three-time AP NFL Coach of the Year and built the Patriots’ dynasty as the de facto general manager since 2000. So, why is Belichick to blame for the disastrous season the Patriots are currently having? 

It’s not what he’s doing as a coach. He’s been an excellent general manager in the 23 years spent in the position. He’s had his moments. He drafted Tom Brady and made the gutsy decision to name him the starter over former No. 1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe. He signed Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, leading to an undefeated regular season in 2007. He has a great eye for spotting defensive talent, but the NFL‘s offense has changed and Belichick has yet to adjust. 

Belichick has received blame from multiple sports media figures. ESPN’s First Take co-host Stephen A. Smith called for Patriots owner Robert Kraft to remove the 71-year-old as general manager, and if Belichick has a problem with that, it could be his last year coaching in New England. 

There are incredibly high expectations for the Patriots to succeed and Kraft knows that. With a record of 1-4, the Patriots are in line to receive the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

It is obvious that Tom Brady deserves more credit than Belichick for the six Lombardi Trophies the franchise won during his 20-season tenure with the team. When he left in free agency after the team’s AFC Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans in 2019, there was no one to take over as quarterback. 

As a temporary replacement, Belichick signed former league MVP Cam Newton, who impressed for the first few weeks before performing poorly for the rest of the 2020 season. This resulted in Belichick’s first losing season with the Patriots since his first year with the team. 

Belichick tried to bring back a Tom Brady-like offense, selecting Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he did not provide the supporting cast the Alabama alum needed. There was no standout receiver like Brady had with Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. The closest Jones had was Jakobi Meyers, but Belichick decided to move on from him after last season in favor of JuJu Smith-Schuster. He also tried to find wide receiver talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry in the first round. Harry has turned out to be one of his worst draft picks, as A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf and Deebo Samuel were still on the board at the time. Since Jones has been given the keys to New England’s offense, the offensive line has been arguably the worst in the NFL. There are a lot of problems on that end of the field. It is clear that Belichick does not have the offensive mind for today’s game. 

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen, left, shakes hands with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, on the field following an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP Photo.

The NFL’s offense has changed in favor of more dual-threat quarterbacks, who are equally skilled in the air and on the ground. The earliest example was Michael Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler who played in the NFL from 2001 to 2017, starting for the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. The one who set the stage was Newton after a 2015 MVP-winning season with the Carolina Panthers. 

Now, the NFL is loaded with quarterbacks that can both pass and scramble. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes are two of the best in the league and are both dual-threat quarterbacks. 

After long-time offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Belichick let former Patriots coordinators take control of the team’s offense: former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coordinator Joe Judge. This turned out horribly, as the Patriots were one of the worst offensive teams last season and were dead last in red zone offense. 

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien took back his old job in Foxborough in hopes of restoring the once-watchable offense. However, Mac Jones regressed so much that he has already thrown as many pick-sixes at Gillette Stadium as Brady did in his 20-year career with the Patriots. 

I don’t think Belichick is a problem on defense. As mentioned earlier, he still has a great eye for defensive talent. He drafted cornerback Christian Gonzalez in the most recent NFL Draft and safety Kyle Dugger a few years back. He signed Matthew Judon from the Baltimore Ravens, who has turned into a player expected to get a sack every game. 

Overall, Bill Belichick needs to take more responsibility for the team’s woes and let someone else take over and build the team’s offense back up. If nothing else, it seems time for the future Hall of Famer to at least call it a career in the front office. 

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