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FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 11: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick, as we are often reminded, plays chess while everyone else is playing checkers. The essence of that cliché is that Belichick is often several steps ahead of everyone else, on the field and off.

Now here’s the part that may surprise you: we’re not going to argue that point because it’s generally true. Belichick is nothing if not a planner, thinking about the much longer term while everyone else is focused on the short.

So isn’t it entirely possible that Belichick is doing precisely that now with his roster and, more specifically, coaching staff?

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 11: Senior Football Advisor Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots looks on during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 11: Senior Football Advisor Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots looks on during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Here’s the point: as it pertains to Belichick, specifically, he is now third in NFL history with 321 wins (including postseason), just three behind George Halas (324) and 26 behind Don Shula (347). In all probability, Belichick will need at least three years to overtake Shula, and he’s never been the kind to take shortcuts or employ quick fixes. What he’s trying to do is rebuild the Patriots from the inside out, then hand them off to someone else, ideally someone reared and schooled in his values and principles.

As has been duly noted, Belichick never cared for the way that Bill Parcells left the Patriots after the 1996 season or, for that matter, the way Parcells left any organization. Belichick reportedly vowed to leave an organization (in this case, the Patriots) in better shape whenever he chose to leave. Now the Patriots are in Year 3 AT – After Tom – and Belichick has made the (very) curious (and downright insane?) decision to turn his offense over to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, which feels like a major disservice to quarterback Mac Jones.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Head coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants looks on during a 37-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 12: Head coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants looks on during a 37-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Do I like it? No. Do I think it will work? No. But let’s play along. What if Belichick looks at all this and thinks something like this: I need to teach Matt and Joe how to be offensive coaches. I need to set them up with a system for the game going forward – and one that everyone can learn relatively easily. Mac won’t like it at first, but I’ll be there to oversee and help him, and there will be bumps along the way. But two or three years down the road, when I’m ready to walk away, the organization should be in good shape.

Now, is that idealistic? Yes. Can it work? Doesn’t feel like it. Is Bill emphasizing the wrong things, putting his own personal value system (instilled in apprentices Patricia and Judge) ahead of people who might be more qualified? It certainly feels that way. But he’s not short-sighted, either. And if you’re looking for some explanation as to why Bill Belichick would take this approach with Mac Jones and his offense, well, perhaps the only plausible explanation is that Belichick is thinking much longer term than any of us are.

It’s either that or he’s completely lost it.