Does Bill Belichick Have Time to Rebuild the Patriots?
For the first time since 2000, the New England Patriots finished an NFL season with a losing record. Bill Belichick’s men limped to a 7-9 term without Tom Brady, who guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first post-season appearance in 13 years following his off-season move.
The relative success of Brady compared to his old team has raised questions over who was more responsible for New England’s six Super Bowl triumphs during his 20-year tenure with the franchise. Brady enjoyed one of the best statistical years of his career, throwing 40 touchdowns. The New England offense led by Cam Newton, on the other hand, was one of the worst in the league just breaking double figures in passing scores.
It’s foolish to suggest that the Patriots’ success before his exit was solely down to Brady. However, Belichick has put himself under unnecessary pressure to prove that he is capable of ushering his team towards the post-season without the presence of the GOAT.
In two seasons in New England without Brady as a starter, Bill Belichick has a losing record. Although Matt Cassel’s performance in relief of an injured Brady in 2008 highlighted that Belichick can produce a winning team without a future Hall of Famer in the quarterback position. After a disappointing season, Newton will likely leave New England, forcing Belichick to look for his third quarterback in as many seasons.
Belichick may be running out of time to establish a post-Brady legacy, as owner Robert Kraft may act to protect the future of the franchise should the Patriots continue to struggle.
Does Belichick Have Time for Another Playoff Run?
However, Belichick’s immediate future is not under threat and the Patriots would be crazy to join the merry-go-round for a new coach in the 2021 off-season. That being said, he does not have endless time left in his tenure at the age of 68. Bill Belichick confessed in a documentary in 2009 that he could not see coaching into his seventies. Well, that time is upon him, although he has recently hinted that he does not foresee retiring at any point in the near future. Therefore, he could have five years left before he calls time on his illustrious career.
It gives him time to retool his offense with a talented quarterback top of the agenda. The Patriots will be selecting 15th in the 2021 NFL Draft, which will take them out of the running for Trevor Lawrence and likely Justin Fields – the top two quarterbacks emerging out of college. Belichick may turn to a veteran signal-caller given that time is short and developing elite talent will be a lengthy process unless he unearths a player of the caliber of Patrick Mahomes.
Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford will reportedly be available along with other reclamation projects that could fit the bill. However, the Patriots are not blessed with talent in their receiving corps. Even with a quarterback in place, there’s no guarantee that New England will return to the playoffs in 2021 or beyond.
Can the Patriots Rebuild?
The Patriots’ roster as it stands is nowhere near enough to compete for the Super Bowl. Compare their team to the current favorites to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl betting odds, the Kansas City Chiefs, who have, as of January 5th, odds of +200 to win. It is clear there is only one winner in terms of sheer quality. In fact, one of the primary reasons Brady left was due to the lack of talent on the roster, joining a stacked outfit in the form of the Buccaneers.
There have been too many misses in the draft and free agency from Belichick. Although his bias towards the defensive side of the ball brought him a number one ranked defense in 2019, it did not result in a Super Bowl victory.
The 68-year-old needs to revitalize that unit as well as his offense due to aging players in the secondary and misfires in the front seven. New England requires a special off-season to rebuild their entire roster. There were signs that the 2020 draft class could bear fruit as Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, and Michael Onwenu all performed to a high standard. Belichick has to continue that theme, otherwise, he will be strapped for talent once again. Without Brady, there is no security blanket to atone for his missteps in his player evaluations.
Belichick has to nail the next two off-seasons and not take a step back in his exceptional skills to ensure that his legacy is not impacted without the legendary quarterback.