As the Patriots prepare to take on the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, fans of the rival team are already concerned about what the Patriots may do during the offseason regarding the future of Bill Belichick.
They've seemingly moved on from the bittersweet idea of beating New England for the first time in years, actually helping them reach a higher draft pick. They have now shifted their focus to the potential candidates who could replace Belichick if the head coach moves on next year. So beating them in Week 18 may not be so triumphant after all.
Of the names that have floated as possible successors to Belichick, Jets fans fear the availability of Titans' coach Mike Vrabel. The longtime Patriots linebacker is reportedly Robert Kraft's favorite despite the conflicting reports about his future in Tennessee. Jets fans hope his current team won't break up with the tenured coach because going from Belichick to Vrabel is a nightmare scenario for all of New York.
That's what Mike Luciano of The Jet Press says would be the inevitable future for the Jets if Vrabel ends up in Foxboro next year.
"Nothing would scream snakebitten Same Old Jets quite like one of the most reviled figures in franchise history retiring, only for New England to land one of the best coaches in the league right after parting with Belichick."
Nothing would seem more Patriots-esque for Robert Kraft to ensure the torture of the Jets for years to come. It would be an intriguing move if there is a parting of ways with Belichick since Vrabel has predominantly been a successful coach during his time in Tennessee.
Coming into a Patriots team with a stacked defense, a high first-round draft pick, and a ton of cap space to spend in free agency should lure most candidates to New England. It would be the perfect start for Vrabel to bring life back to his coaching, and doing it for his longtime team would be even sweeter.
The Jets, on the other hand, want absolutely none of that. The idea of Belichick staying for another season is bad enough for them, but the thought of Vrabel replacing him means they're destined to be losers for even longer.
"Vrabel is a quality coach, and he would relish a second crack at it in the NFL. Going back home to the Patriots makes too much sense if Belichick is on his way out, and such a move could be impactful enough to set the Jets up for even more losing in the half-decade to follow."
Maybe this could be the bright side of Belichick retiring or coaching another team since some Patriots fans don't want to see the legendary coach leave the team. At least if he does, a guy like Vrabel is already creating a stir in their opponents.
That makes the possibility of it happening a bit more digestible, right?