This is not the Bill Belichick we are used to.
It was the most embarrassing, disgraceful, dysfunctional ending to a professional sporting event, maybe ever. The final play in the Patriots-Raiders game yesterday was utterly mystifying to viewers everywhere, and even moreso to New England fans, who have grown accustomed to the Patriots being one of the teams who don’t do THAT. They don’t blow games on boneheaded plays. They don’t do things that make you go hmmmm… Sure they lose games- lately more than ever- but very few- or none- of those losses are brutal indictments on the state of the franchise. And make no mistake…this one is.
The Patriots’ 20-ish year run as the premier franchise in the National Football League was marked by a few pillars, beyond just the simplified “Brady & Belichick”.
- Smart, versatile, well-coached players
- Mistake-free football
- Winning turnover battles
- Understanding of situational football
- Executing in the biggest spots
Pore through the thousands of gallons of internet ink spilled throughout this teams’ dynastic run, and you’ll find, among others, these attributes cited endlessly while analyzing why the Patriots have been do good for so long. You can argue “Duh”, as the above seem fairly obvious; but it’s also very true. This team did live up to these traits better and more consistently than any other team was able to…and it led to unprecedented success in modern American sport.
Aside from being cliche, though, the other thing these hallmarks have in common is that they all are attributable to a great head coach. And Bill Belichick was nothing if not great.
BB’s best teams were always among the best in the league at delivering on these tenants, and he was always credited (properly) for this. Stars exceling on special teams; attention to detail in kicking game; 4th Down success rate; 3rd Down and Red Zone %’s; the wrap-around score; turnover differential; BEND don’t BREAK…. the list goes on and on. These are all examples of things analysts local and abound would cite, and almost always preface with “A Bill Belichick team….”. The players were the ones executing, of course, but first and foremost, credit was given to Bill. Their successes in big situations were unilaterally, largely attributable to playing for the greatest coach of all time.
This begs the question, then, why, in the aftermath of yesterday’s despicable debacle, shouldn’t we lay the blame at the feet of the Surly Septuagenarian Svengali?
The Bill Bo-Bo’s were out early, and nobody circles the wagons like the Belichick media cartel. I’m certain you can find hundreds of tweets, radio and TV appearances, and (poorly written) columns, where former special teamer Matt Chatham credits Bill when the players excelled in big spots, and played great “situational football” (Seriously, search :@chatham58 + situational football”, he uses that a LOT). But this year, when the team has sucked, he’s defended Bill at every turn. From the offensive staff decisions, to this nonsense yesterday, nothing is Bill’s fault.
And the sad thing for Matty is, he KNOWS he’s lying. If he were honest with himself and remained consistent in what he believes for one second, he’d admit that this is a poorly coached team. And it really started last year, as the team took more delay of games, too many men, blown timeouts early in half’s, etc, etc….go back and review the tape, the cracks were showing.
The Patriots are no longer a well-coached team. It’s time to face the facts. As Patriots’ fans, we’ve eagerly excoriated an endless array of coaches for their teams’ bonehead execution when the games were on the line: Carroll, Shanahan, Tomlin, Cowher, Harbaugh, Dungy…you know the list. But now, just because he used to be great, we aren’t going to admit that Bill is fallible (and mockable)? Oh PUH-LEASE.
It’s time for the Krafts to move on from Bill. I’d say approach him and work on a transition plan to President of Football Operations, but I’m sure Belichick wants to chase down that Shula record. And that’s fair, he has earned that right. He’s still healthy, smart, and certainly capable in the right situation of being an upper echeon coach. But the situation here- a lack of capable assistants, a mediocre QB with a dearth of offensive talent around him, and a locker room that clearly isn’t responding to whatever he’s doing- ain’t it.
If he wants to chase those wins, find a suitable landing spot for him, and trade him for picks. Then let’s get this rebuild done right, because CLEARLY he’s not the right guy to do it.