Bill Belichick has moved out and on as New England Patriots' Head Coach and de facto general manager. The unthinkable has now happened for the second time in Foxborough. Two of the NFL’s all-time greats, one a player, Tom Brady, and one a Coach, Bill Belichick, have been shown the door by a less-than-acceptably grateful ownership.
Patriots long-time owner, Robert Kraft, has failed once more to clean up an internal mess in his organization by bringing people together rather than allowing them to depart under less-than-optimum circumstances. Those are huge gaffes.
All that being said, the team is now faced with two overriding immediate challenges. One is to hire a new General Manager, President of Player Personnel, or whatever other title makes sense. The other is to hire a Head Coach. It seems like the coaching decision is made, Jerod Mayo.
The former is seen here as perhaps the most important hire of all, though the individual sits more in the background than the man on the sideline. Bill Belichick's lack of success as a general manager
became his undoing as a coach. Holding both jobs in the 2020's NFL is frankly too large for one person as Belichick himself seemed to admit some time ago.
To lead the Patriots' reconstruction or rebuild, the right person has to be employed, and soon. One person who checks many of the boxes needed is ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick. Riddick is seen here as a great choice to fill that personnel role. Let’s explore.
New England Patriots should hire Louis Riddick as their new President of Personnel Operations
Immediately, people will question the suggestion since Riddick hasn't been an NFL general manager—fair criticism of the suggestion. However, let’s look beyond that to see why he makes sense for many reasons.
ESPN says this about their analyst, Louis Riddick,
“Louis Riddick, one of the most well-respected voices in the industry, currently serves as an NFL and college football analyst across ESPN and ABC. The former pro scout and director of pro personnel, who also played in the NFL, originally joined ESPN in May 2013 as an NFL Front Office Insider.”
It’s a brief but succinct summary that contains a lot to ponder. First, Riddick played football under Bill Belichick in Cleveland. A former 9th-round draft pick who played seven NFL seasons, he brings that perspective to the table, an attribute even Belichick didn’t possess. As such, he brings that pertinent insight and empathy to the selection process of players in the draft and free agency who will fit the system to be employed by the team’s new coach.
Secondly, Riddick has extensive personnel management experience at the NFL level. While he hasn't been the top man, he’s been close to it. ESPN sums up his NFL personnel resume this way,
“Riddick’s NFL front office experience spanned more than a decade with the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. He started as a pro scout in Washington (2001-04) before being promoted to director of pro personnel, a position he held for three years (2005-07). Riddick
then joined the Eagles in 2008 as a scout. He was named assistant director of pro personnel in 2009, and, a year later, he was promoted to director of pro personnel (2010-13).”
That's a lot of experience there, hands-on experience for more than ten years including as an NFL director of pro personnel. Experience as a player, check. Extensive experience as an NFL personnel executive, check. Next, onto the bonus experience Riddick brings to the table.
As New England Patriots GM, Louis Riddick brings this special attribute
One thing that Riddick will provide the Patriots that even Belichick couldn't is media presence and professionalism, an ability to deal with the rigors of the scrutiny of the team by the voracious and
sometimes irascible New England media.
With ten years of experience at ESPN, there is no aspect of media Interaction with which this seemingly universally well-respected and well-liked broadcaster will not be familiar. Only the vantage point will change.
NFL executives and coaches need to be able to deal with the media in as respectful and in as much of an upfront manner as possible. Riddick knows what analysts and broadcasters need, and he'll be ready to provide that in a way that will diverge greatly from the sometimes cantankerous and always succinct Belichick.
If Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots ownership want to hire a man who is not only qualified as a former player but also a former 10-year NFL personnel executive and someone who can deal with every aspect of the responsibilities of a President of Player Personnel, then Kraft need look no further than ESPN’s Louis Riddick.
Would Riddick be interested? That's another question altogether. For someone who meets so many aspects of the necessary criteria to be a successful NFL general manager, it would seem like he might. There's only one way to be certain: for Mr. Kraft to pick up the phone, make the call, and see. He may not leave the building thereafter.