Bill Belichick’s comments suggest Gunner Olszewski could lose returner job

Patriots WR/KR Gunner Olszewski (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Patriots WR/KR Gunner Olszewski (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Bill Belichick isn’t happy with the Patriots’ performance on special teams.

For the amount of times the New England Patriots have had to field kickoffs, you’d think there would have been a breakout play by now. The team has allowed 84 points across its last three games, and it seems head coach Bill Belichick has been hoping for a return touchdown given all the opportunities.

Though the Pats are ninth in the NFL in kick return average (23.86 yards per return) and starting returner Gunner Olszewski is 11th in the league with a 24.1 average, Belichick isn’t pleased with the results, at least based on his comments on WEEI this week.

Not much is going right for New England right now, and at the very least, Belichick can usually take solace in the fact that his team boasts the best special teams unit in the league, but that hasn’t entirely been the case in 2020.

Here’s what ESPN’s Mike Reiss said of Belichick’s comments:

"“Belichick put the kickoff return unit on notice during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, which had me wondering if returner Gunner Olszewski might be in jeopardy of losing his spot as the top returner. ‘We’ve missed a lot of good opportunities on kickoff returns. It’s been a frustrating, really in all eight games,’ Belichick said. ‘It’s been one thing or another, but we just haven’t gotten the production that has been there, the opportunities that have been there.’ Of course, it doesn’t always fall solely on the returner, but if Belichick does consider a change, maybe that’s a way to get rookie J.J. Taylor back into the mix after he provided an early-season spark but hasn’t played since Week 3.”"

Taylor has been listed on the injury report since Nov. 5 with an illness and hasn’t seen action since, but he got back to work and now isn’t on the injury report heading into the game vs the Ravens. Perhaps we’ll see him get some returns on Sunday night?

Who knows, but not much is going right for the Patriots this year, and to be zeroing in on kickoff returns, which have been slowly phased out of the game, feels odd. But that’s coach Belichick for ya. He’s not going to take any sort of regression in any facet of the game.