In a perfect world, Tom Brady would’ve raised his seventh Super Bowl trophy in a New England Patriots uniform. He would’ve retired playing all his years in one uniform while the next guys developed under him. But there were egos in the way.
In a perfect world, Bill Belichick would’ve been at Brady’s side in full embrace, both glimmering in NFL history with their Super Bowl rings shining as the best head coach, quarterback duo of all time. They still are, but there were egos now dimmer that shine.
In a perfect world, Patriots owner Robert Kraft would be gracefully passing the torch onto the next quarterback and head coach to lead the organization into the next decade. But you know…egos.
Bill Belichick built his legacy as New England Patriots head coach by not being sentimental
With the biggest ego possibly coaching his last game as the head coach of the New England Patriots this Sunday, there is a lot of reflection on the legend of Belichick. The two decades of dominance, the rings, the snarky interviews, the scandals, the “Hoodie.”.
You see, in all Belichick’s greatness with Brady or without (but mostly with), the Patriots head coach has frustrated the team’s fandom with bold roster moves, head-scratching draft picks and game management decisions that typically left fans saying, “In Bill We Trust.”
It was in that perfect world that everything decision made benefitted the team in some way. Whether it was boldly going with the quarterback selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft over Drew Bledsoe or moving on from players like Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Asante Samuel, Logan Mankins, and Wes Welker sooner rather than later in their careers, were moves that worked out because the mastermind in Belichick always seemed to have that next player to step up.
But that roster management hasn’t been on display over the last few seasons. It started with letting Brady take his talents to Tampa Bay, where he played three more solid seasons (winning a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers) while Patriots fans had to experience a season of Cam Newton and three years of Mac Jones at a position that was so stabilized for over two decades.
Ironically, perhaps Belichick is the talent the organization has held on to for too long. As Belichick stands on the sidelines on the brink of a 4- or 5-win season, the reality will set in that a new chapter is needed in Foxborough.
The Mac Jones seasons of regression are just one of the reasons the New England Patriots need to move on. NFL teams around the league no longer fear the genius of Belichick. Young head coaches like Mike McDaniel seem to get the best of him, which has never happened before.
Then you have young quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Allen getting the best of Belichick. Again, just the aura of Belichick used to get in the head of young quarterbacks. But it doesn’t anymore.
Perhaps it is that the coach has softened in his ways, or maybe the game has just passed him by, but for the New England Patriots organization to move forward, for Robert Kraft to pull the trigger in allowing the greatest head coach of all time to move on, he must recognize a change needs to come.
There needs to be a change in approach, a change in philosophy, and a change in team leadership (both at the coaching level and player level).
In a perfect world, the Belichick era as Patriots head coach ends against the New York Jets, the same team he dissed on a paper napkin to build a dynasty that may never be rivaled.
In all, it is time for a new chapter in Foxborough.
It’s game day.