There has been a trend developing in the NFL for the last several years, possibly longer, and it doesn’t bode well for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
The Bill Belichick era of the New England Patriots has returned to Earth a bit the last three seasons.
The Patriots will play their first preseason game on Thursday against the New York Giants, which begins the three game preseason schedule leading into the 2022 season.
However, the Patriots aren’t going to have an easy time in 2022 for a couple reasons.
Their defense is plenty good enough make a deep playoff run, but their lack of a true playmaker on offense and decision to not name an offensive coordinator has led to the team having a rough go at it during training camp.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. I have maintained that Bill Belichick is likely the greatest coach in NFL history, but his brand of football is dying a painful death, and why would he, after decades of coaching, want to change?
To give us a better idea of what the league has changed to, let’s look into the 2021 NFL standings, for example.
The last place teams in 2021 include the Jets, Broncos, Ravens, Jaguars, Giants, Seahawks, Lions, and Panthers.
Three of the four last place teams in the AFC are and were coached by defensive coaches. The last place Giants were coached by a special teams coach, the Seahawks are coached by a defensive coach, and the last two remaining teams, the Lions and Panthers, are both employing offensive minded coaches.
However, four of the eight NFL divisions saw their last place teams having defensive coaches, and only two of those last place teams were coached by offensive minds.
During the 2021 playoffs, all seven NFC playoff teams were coached by offensive coaches, and nine of the 14 teams were coached by offensive minds, 10 if you give Jon Gruden credit.
Let’s also take a look at some former head coach/quarterback marriages that recently ended.
The Kirk Cousins/Mike Zimmer era ended this offseason. The Brian Flores/Tua Tagovailoa era ended this offseason. The Vic Fangio/Drew Lock era ended this offseason. The Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era ended this offseason. The era of Matt Patricia/Matthew Stafford ended with Stafford requesting a trade out of Detroit after more than a decade.
Of the eight head coaches hired this offseason, five of them were offensive minded head coaches.
As much as he might not want to admit it, Bill Belichick’s style of coaching is falling out of favor in the NFL, and the recent history of defensive head coaches and young/franchise quarterbacks is not good.
The Patriots are at risk of being another victim of this trend. I am trying to stay optimistic about the team, but evidence will suggest that, eventually, the Belichick/Jones era marriage will not work.
Which of the two will end up staying longer in New England?