The New England Patriots are approaching a major crossroads in their checkered history. Veteran fans will remember some dark days earlier on, but interestingly, they were never as dark as they were made out to be. But young fans will only remember the halcyon days of Tom Brady and whomever and the glory and Super Bowl titles he carried away on his shoulders.
Those days are now well in the rearview mirror, and the team has some tough decisions to make. The current operation is dysfunctional, and the onus is being put largely on the shoulders of head Coach Bill Belichick, who also holds the personnel portfolio.
Some speculate about firing Coach Belichick. Clean the slate, clean the house, and move on from the whole tired operation. There are certainly some aspects of that thinking that warrant a solid looksee. However, firing head Coach Bill Belichick would not be conducive to a positive future. Coach Belichick should NOT be fired, and here's why.
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is not the major reason for the team's collapse
Coach Belichick has always been a top defensive coach. When he was hired, proponents (and there weren't too many around) could have thought that, at least in his hiring, we knew he could coach defenses. That was the feeling here.
Advocates of that position need to look no further than the last Patriots' Super Bowl win in 2018 when Belichick's defense shut down the Los Angeles Rams' high-powered offense holding them to a mere three points. That was defensive coaching at the highest level.
Offensively, he seems to have let Josh McDaniels lead the way, allowing Tom Brady to do his thing mostly during the glory years. With TB12 long gone, the offense sputters along while the defense remains relatively solid.
So, with that in mind, relieving Coach Belichick of his coaching duties (emphasis on defensive coaching) is not a sound thing to do. He can still coach defense. It's on the offensive side of the ball where things have run amuck. And that is the crux of the issue.
The New England Patriots have to do this to get things moving forward
If Coach Bill Belichick isn't the real problem, then who is? The answer is it's de facto General Manager Bill Belichick who's the problem. Belichick's oversight of the personnel operation is where the train has gone off the tracks, and that's the move that needs to be made by owner Robert Kraft.
Mr. Kraft made his worst decision ever as the Patriots' owner by letting the Tom Brady situation fester to the point of his wanting out. And he followed that error by allowing Brady to leave. It was his decision, and it was a dysfunctional one.
Both Belichick and Brady should have left the Patriots simultaneously and walked together into the Patriots and the Pro Football Halls of Fame. Both will enter anyway, but the Brady parting has not been sweet sorrow. It was a disaster and one that still impacts the franchise today.
That was a significant personnel blunder by GM Belichick, maybe his worst ever. And he has had many miserable drafts, especially in the past several years, and has largely flopped in free agency decisions. The list of gaffes is long and won't be repeated here. The facts are clear, however, Belichick is not a title-worthy NFL General Manager now if he ever really was.
The key decision for Robert Kraft is not to fire Head Coach Bill Belichick but to replace his alter ego, GM Belichick. The franchise needs a real personnel man with solid NFL experience, including in the new NFL offensive dynamic with dual-threat quarterbacking.
Coach Belichick should remain, but he should cede personnel preeminence to a professional. If he chooses not to accept this new arrangement, then, again, it should be his decision to make. But let's make one thing clear: no coach in the NFL would have been likely to succeed with this roster of subpar players.
Yet, it was Belichick, General Manager, who put together this bargain basement bottom-of-the-heap assemblage of players. That aspect of Bill Belichick's role needs to be adjusted, whatever the consequences. Suppose Coach Belichick can accept that re-arrangement, great. He should stay on as Head Coach. If not, then a separation should take place.
But the culprit in all this is Belichick, the General Manager, and it's that guy who should face the consequences, not Belichick, the Head Coach. Mr. Kraft made one colossal error in allowing TB12 to leave; he should do all he can to avoid making a similar faux pas with Bill Belichick. When he decides, he should hang up his coaching whistle in Foxborough and only in Foxborough.