Mazz: In any other circumstance, Bill Belichick might be fired today
Well, at this moment, the end seems inevitable. In fact, were he just another coach, Bill Belichick might be fired today, tomorrow at the latest.
The signs are all there now in the wake of the Patriots’ 20-17 loss to the Washington Commanders yesterday, another defeat to a bad team that the Patriots of old never would have suffered. The added difference this time is that the Patriots seem fraught with inner turmoil, specifically a pair of disciplinary benchings that cannot help but make one wonder if Belichick is trying to hold onto his team with his final breaths. And that was merely how the day began. It ended with yet another Mac Jones interception – his league-leading ninth of the season – and a succession of penalties by special teams player Brandon Schooler, last seen on the sideline launching expletives at the officials like a man amidst a breakdown.
Ugly it was. Ugly it is.
But that is what is happening to the once-mighty, once-proud Patriots right now. They – and, more specifically, he – is unraveling right before our very eyes, incapable slowing the self-destruction that the Patriots seem to execute on a weekly basis.
In fact, it might even be accelerating.
“A game where we had our chances,” Belichick summarized in a familiar refrain, all before engaging in a verbal tug-o-war with media members who asked obvious questions.
Were J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones benched to start the game? No. Why did Shaun Wade start and then not play after the first two series? Everybody played. They all played. Why didn’t Shaun Wade play after the first two series? They all played. Jack Jones not playing for the first quarter – that was not disciplinary in nature? We played all the corners. I think we played all the safeties. I think we played everybody on defense.
After the game, Jackson and Jones both left without speaking to reporters. Veteran safety Adrian Phillips was asked about the absence of Jackson and Jones – and replied with the following according to this tweet:
Meanwhile, after praising wide receiver Kayshon Boutte during the week – “His best week of practice,” Belichick said on Friday – the coach left the player inactive on Sunday as New England’s impotent offense continued its season-long ineptitude. On more than one occasion, quarterback Jones questioned whether he had confidence in the Patriots “system.” (Do they even have one anymore?) The sideline, locker room and entire operation oozed with the kind of messaging that engulfs bad teams – I don’t give a f— … this is bulls—- – and Belichick seems to be further retreating into his bunker as he is being surrounded.
And the really scary part? The season is only half-over.
So where does this go now? Heaven knows, but the Patriots now seem to be in an all-out nosedive. They have just two wins this season – the first against a New York Jets team they would now almost certainly lose to, the second against a Buffalo Bills team that is sinking faster by the week and may also end up getting its coach fired. The list of losses now includes New Orleans (at home by a 34-0 score), Las Vegas (which has already fired its coach, Josh McDaniels) and Washington (which traded two of its best defensive players last week).
Of all those defeats, the most relevant may be that to the Raiders, who unceremoniously dismissed coach Josh McDaniels, a Belichick protege who has now been fired in-season during his career. In this most recent instance, McDaniels was dismissed after a team meeting in which his authority and operation were openly questioned by players, which is now exactly what is taking place in Foxboro. The only difference is that Belichick didn’t call a meeting and encourage the grievances to be aired. No, in this case, the players are pretty much doing it on their own.
Would Patriots owner Robert Kraft ever go so far as to do what Raiders owner Mark Brown did in dismissing McDaniels midseason? That feels unlikely, though such things are impossible to predict. On Friday, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wrote this piece suggesting that Belichick could be terminated if the Patriots lost to both Washington and the Indianapolis Colts, the latter a game that will take place in Germany in six days. Indianapolis is now 4-5 after yesterday’s win over the wretched Carolina Panthers, and we are all fully aware that there is no such thing as an easy or automatic win on the 2023 New England football schedule.
Amid all of this, of course, Belichick rests at 331 career regular- and post-season NFL victories, 17 short or surpassing Don Shula for No. 1 all-time. At this rate, he will never get there. And if not for what Belichick has already accomplished and not for what he still could … well … we have all undoubtedly reached a similar conclusion.
He’d almost certainly be done and gone already.