Sure, the New England Patriots downed what many deemed a Super Bowl contender before the season in the Buffalo Bills just a few weeks back. And while their record in one of the National Football League’s toughest divisions sits at 2-2, they can’t seem to figure out how to stop anyone else. Outside of a 29-25 thriller over Buffalo and an annual victory over the offensively maligned New York Jets, New England has been outscored by its opponents by 109 points across nine games—all losses.
Quarterback Mac Jones has not taken the leap many anticipated with the hiring of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, “leading” an anemic offense averaging just 13.5 points per game. Despite being on the field for the majority of games, even the defense under Belichick’s tutelage has surrendered 22.5 per contest. Special teams, which could be penciled in as a net positive for every other Patriots squad under Belichick, have been disastrous.
Nothing’s working for New England, and their head coach is no exception. A fortunate win over the Bills might dupe Patriots fans into thinking otherwise, but the truth is that the man who has won all six of the franchise’s Super Bowls has to go for this team to attain its former glory.
Although it’s impossible to replace the greatest quarterback of all time, New England’s 27-35 record since Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 does not speak highly of their recent success. While the on-field product has been mediocre at best, thanks in part to Belichick’s coaching, it’s his decisions as general manager that have further sent the Patriots into a downward spiral.
Over the past five years, let’s just say that the Patriots have had their chances to secure a star or two that eventually slipped away, thanks to Bill’s outdated view of the game. The first alarm sounded in 2019 when the Patriots selected wide receiver N’Keal Harry as their first-round choice in the NFL Draft. Who, might you ask, went off the board in later rounds? No big deal, just three bonafide studs at the same position—Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf.
This mishap is far from the only draft misstep by Belichick as the Pats’ GM, with questionable selections, including (but certainly not limited to) Sony Michel over Lamar Jackson in 2018, as well as the first-round choices of Jones and Cole Strange in recent years. While defensive mainstays like JaWhaun Bentley and Kyle Dugger were hits, Belichick has struggled to adapt on the offensive side of the ball.
While, yes, Belichick’s expertise has always been shutting down the opponent’s best players with a suffocating defense, New England’s offense has ranked at or near the bottom of the league in critical offensive statistics such as points scored, red-zone efficiency and yards per game since 2020.
Once again, his head coach and managerial decisions have compromised the team’s ability to contend with high-flying opponents like the Kansas City Chiefs and divisional foes like Buffalo and the Miami Dolphins. After offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was hired away by the Las Vegas Raiders ahead of the 2022 season, Bill Belichick inserted a “committee” of coaches to design the offense. These two men were Matt Patricia (offensive line coach) and Joe Judge (quarterbacks coach), who were emphatic failures in brief stints as head coaches and are not well respected around the league. Patricia had no prior experience as an offensive play-caller, either, with his expertise coming on the defensive side of the ball, while Judge’s focus had been on special teams.
Even in free agency, Belichick handed millions to unproven, anemic wide receivers like Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker and—most notably—JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has yet to reach 100 yards this season. Meanwhile, 2022 leading receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was given a three-year, $33 million deal identical to Smith-Schuster’s, has produced nearly 400 yards on 37 catches for the Raiders.
As things stand in 2023, the New England Patriots’ weakest position groups are quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line. Maybe Jones isn’t the answer, but at least give him a passable receiving corps and protection, neither of which he has. But no, Belichick had to draft a KICKER in the fourth round when the Patriots had no receivers or offensive linemen selected. Belichick waited until the sixth round to select a wide receiver.
The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. The Bills have Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. The Philadelphia Eagles have Jalen Hurts and Brown. The Cincinnati Bengals have Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. Even the Los Angeles Rams have Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. All the best teams from the past few seasons have had a star quarterback and wide receiver/tight end duo. The Patriots have Jones and Kendrick Bourne.
Seven weeks ago, the New England Patriots supposedly hit rock bottom—losing 34-0 to a similarly challenged New Orleans Saints team—after being punked 38-3 just a week earlier in Dallas. These losses, in which the Patriots were outscored 72-3, prompted head coach Bill Belichick to declare—for the first time in his 24 seasons as head coach—that New England was “starting over.” Fast forward to Week 12, and they lose to the Tommy Devito-led New York Giants, 10-7. And although Belichick might not realize it, the theme of “starting over” has to begin with his departure from the team.