New England Patriots: Coach Bill Belichick's worst enemy

Personnel gaffes threaten entire 2023 season
Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

The New England Patriots 2023 summer camp is in full swing. The clock is ticking toward the first game against the Eagles. After a long and active offseason, flaws in team construction are still threatening to derail the season before it begins.

Bill Belichick has worn dual hats for 24 years as Patriots' head Coach and de facto General Manager. As a coach, his record is nearly unequalled and 19 more wins will propel him past the legendary Don Shula for most wins by a coach. He's a sure-fire Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Belichick was the beneficiary of having the greatest player and quarterback to ever play the game on hand for most of his winning seasons. The GOAT, Tom Brady was the Great Safety Valve, rescuing Belichick from his worst enemy every season, year after year, decade after decade. So what's Belichick's worst enemy?

New England Patriots' Bill Belichick's worst enemy is ...

Even during Brady's tenure at Foxborugh, Coach Belichick's worst enemy was and quite frankly remains himself. Belichick's worst enemy is Bill Belichick the de facto General Manager. How's that, after winning an unprecedented six Super Bowl trophies?

As they say in Foxborough, it is what it is. With Brady at the helm, Belichick violated the cardinal rule of football with a star quarterback, take care of him, and the rest will follow. In this case, taking care meant ensuring two major items that remain the same imperative today for Mac Jones or whoever else quarterbacks the New England Patriots in 2023.

Those items were first, supplying Brady or whomever with top receiving talent. That should be Job One. Belichick's grade over Brady's career was a dismal D there. Save for the shining moment when Randy Moss was in tow, the tenure of Deion Branch, and the unexpected but equally superb careers of unheralded Troy Brown and Julian Edelman, he failed to give Brady the wide-receiving tools he deserved. It cost Lombardi Trophies.

In addition, the imperative to have a top offensive line was and is paramount. In this area with Brady, Belichick did a decent job of providing good players there. The Patriots' offensive lines were solid and sometimes very good with Brady. But what about now?

The 2023 New England Patriots are still deficient

Belichick and his personnel operation at least attempted to augment their current wide receiver corps this offseason. They brought in a very good receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster. He'll be just fine, if, and it's evidently a significant "if", he's healthy. If they failed to do due diligence and he's not, then the wide receiver corps will be just average again in 2023. They also drafted two WRs, the promising Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte. That helps.

The most egregious deficiency that Belichick and company have allowed, however, is the offensive line and specifically offensive tackle. The team used several draft picks to upgrade the interior of the O-line with center/guard Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow, and Atonio Mafi. They should be fine there.

Yet, the egregious omission this offseason is one much of the New England media is only just now catching onto. It's the woefully inadequate situation at offensive tackle. The team's neglect of the critically important OT position threatens to derail the entire season before it begins.

Instead of adding a top OT in free agency (e.g. Orlando Bloom Jr.) and then drafting for the future, the team went on the cheap in free agency. They only signed in 34-year-old journeyman, Riley Reiff, and waiver-wire types, Calvin Anderson and Conor McDermott. Reiff has underwhelmed and Anderson hasn't even been on the field. So much for due diligence. Adding to the angst is that both the team's only solid OT, Trent Brown, and the expected starter at right tackle Reiff are out of contract after the 2023 season.

On that note, the team neglected to draft even one OT this season out of their 12 draft picks. The lack of even starting quality after Trent Brown and the dearth of any depth whatsoever is a prescription for disaster. This is especially so since their top two QBs at the moment are pocket passers. Neither Mac Jones nor Bailey Zappe exhibits much escapability in the pocket as an attribute.

Until and unless the team either addresses this deficiency with a trade or two for quality OTs, or, installs dual-threat QB rookie Malik Cunningham as the quarterback, expect a sack-laden season and a mediocre record. That's the dismal prognosis at the moment. And, it again signifies that Bill Belichick's worst enemy remains himself, Bill Belichick the general manager.