Time was right to move on from Belichick

Posted 1/17/24

Last week marked the end of perhaps the greatest era in professional football history as the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick parted ways after 24 years together.

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Time was right to move on from Belichick


Last week marked the end of perhaps the greatest era in professional football history as the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick parted ways after 24 years together.

You all have heard the stats … but six Super Bowls on nine appearances is the one that will stand out the most. The wins in both the regular season and playoffs are astronomical, as are the other stats and facts along the way. The past 24 years have been the best run that any team has ever gone on.

Now, a few weeks back, I touched on this as speculation regarding Belichick’s job status grew. Although I have always been a fan of his work, even I was worn down by the end of this past year and felt that it was time to move on. It had nothing to do with his knowledge of the game or ability to coach. Sometimes, a leader’s message just goes stale and that is exactly what happened. Sure, there were plenty of other factors that contributed, many of which can be directly linked to Belichick. Poor roster management from drafting and free agent spending, questionable coaching decisions in terms of staff structure, then the obvious one in the quarterback situation since Tom Brady’s departure.

Belichick earned a long rope and although many believe he should have been allowed the chance to return, four years is long enough considering how little progress was made and how so many aspects of the team have deteriorated. It was time to move on.

I loved the way that the team handled the goodbye press conference. Well, it was more of a statement made by both owner Robert Kraft and Belichick. They appeared together at the podium, reflected on the positives that came with the run, shook hands and moved on. I am under no illusions here, I am sure Kraft sat down with Belichick in the days leading up to it, expressing his dissatisfaction and probable suggestion that the two sides split. I do not believe it was as mutual as they are leading on. However, for them to say goodbye on seemingly good terms is refreshing. It’s rare in sports that two sides with that much history split amicably, or close to it.

Since the news broke, the Patriots elevated defensive coach Jerod Mayo to the head coach position while Belichick enters his first job search in a quarter century. He reportedly already interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons’ vacant head coach position and is expected to communicate with a few other teams in the coming weeks.

To be frank, the Patriots should be careful with Mayo and any team considering hiring Belichick should also be aware of the possible pitfalls.

As for Mayo, his coaching resume is paper thin despite a pretty decorated playing career. Mayo has never been a coordinator and he has not been a head coach at any level. He has only been with the Patriots as an assistant for a few years as well … although he is known for his smarts and intangibles as a leader, I fully expect some growing pains early and often. The Patriots are likely in for a lengthy rebuild and that includes at the head coaching position. In a win-now league, it will be hard for fans to remain patient if the team is not headed in the right direction in the next year or two, and I am concerned that Mayo may not be quite ready to handle that pressure so early into his coaching career.

As for Belichick, let’s be real here, he is not coaching for a Super Bowl, he is coaching for the all-time wins record which he is just painfully shy of with 15 victories needed. I am not saying that he is not at all interested in another title to match Brady and make up the ground he has lost since the quarterback moved to Tampa Bay, but it’s obvious that earning 15 wins is much more attainable that a championship, regardless of the roster he inherits. Had Belichick reeled in those 15 wins, last week’s conference would have been a retirement announcement.

As much as these teams will be looking for a seasoned leader to right their ship, a clear concern with Belichick is that he is in his 70s, has won six championship, made plenty of money, and certainly is not a realistic candidate to be a long-term solution. He himself said back in 2009 that he had no intention of coaching into his 70s, and the only reason why he went back on that is because of this wins record that he probably would have achieved had he just given Brady the two-year deal he sought after the 2019 season. Belichick will be 72 at the start of next season.

As much as I would like to cherish these last 24 seasons and reflect glowingly on Belichick’s run in New England, I have soured a bit in these past four seasons post-Brady. Many of Belichick’s shortcomings have come to light without Brady there to bail him out, and the Patriots’ hard fall from grace is mostly due to Belichick’s mismanagement. Is Belichick a Hall of Famer? Yes. Is he on the shortlist for best coach of all time? Sure.

At the end of the day though, these past four years have been a grind and the Patriots are back to where they were 30 years ago at the bottom of the league. It is time to move on.

pitch, Belichick,


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