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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

OPINION: Bill Belichick is washed up, it’s time to move on

Fans file into Gillette Stadium before the Patriots play the Bills in 2019.

Four years ago, the New England Patriots were the standard of excellence in the National Football League. The Patriots were always Super Bowl favorites and fans expected a win on Sundays with Tom Brady at the helm.

Since Brady left in early 2020, the Patriots have only made the playoffs once, and are on track to miss the playoffs for the third time in four years. The offense has withered into an anemic, unwatchable horror show. 

Some of the team’s offensive problems have existed for years, but they continue to get worse because Head Coach Bill Belichick refuses to find sufficient solutions for any of them. The game has passed him by, and for this reason the Patriots should look for another coach.

 The Patriots have struggled to find big weapons for their receiving core since Brady’s departure. The last Patriots receiver to accumulate 1,000 yards in a season was Julian Edelman in 2019.

Following  Brady’s departure, Belichick attempted to address the gaping hole in the offense by trying to make it work with their current depth and by signing free agents like Juju Smith-Schuster. Players like Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker and Smith-Schuster are all good receivers, but none of them are true threats that make the Patriots stand out from other teams. The Patriots have solid receivers, but need someone elite if they want a chance at the playoffs.

A true number one receiver would benefit quarterback Mac Jones’ development. This is proven by quarterbacks from opposing teams like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, who have all seen success in their young careers with top-tier receivers on the field. 

Not only has Jones not been supplied with legitimate weapons, but his growth has been stunted by having different offensive coordinators in each of his first three seasons. 

Jones had a solid rookie year under Josh McDaniels, but when McDaniels became head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022, Belichick filled the void at offensive coordinator with former Special Teams Coordinator Joe Judge and former Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia. As a result, the Patriots missed the playoffs in 2022 and the offense fell to bottom 10 in the league in yards per game.

Fans thought that the hiring of Bill O’Brien would lead to a bounceback year for the Patriots this year. Instead, the offense has continued to regress, partially because the offensive line can’t stop a nosebleed.

So far this season, Jones has only had about 2.3 seconds in the pocket per play, which is one of the lowest for starting quarterbacks in the league. He is tied for sixth in the league for times hurried.

It is pretty evident something is not working for the Patriots offense. So, how do they fix it?

As tough as it is for some Patriots fans to hear, the Patriots should consider tanking the rest of their season. Five losses by week seven makes the season a lost cause, especially when two of those losses are thirty-point beatdowns to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. 

Playoffs are realistically not in play anymore, so tanking the season will put the Patriots in a prime position for the NFL Draft, with generational quarterback prospect Caleb Williams projected to be at the top of the draft board. Although Jones is not the problem of the offense, the Patriots should draft Williams if they get the number one pick because he offers a higher ceiling.

After moving on from Belichick, the Patriots should consider Titans head coach and former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel as his successor. Vrabel is reportedly on the hot seat with the Titans underperforming. Given Vrabel’s history with the Patriots, he might be a good candidate for the position. 

Once a new coach is hired, priority number one will be to splurge in free agency. The Patriots are projected to be top five in most free agency money in the 2024 offseason. Splurging in the 2021 offseason helped the Patriots get back to the playoffs in the 2021-22 season. If they address their needs at receiver, offensive line and cornerback depth, it will instantly make them more competitive next season.

Aside from trying to secure Williams next April, the Patriots should at the very least be aiming to draft superstar receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. from Ohio State University. 

After a 1,200-yard and 14-touchdown campaign with the Buckeyes last season, Harrison is off to another strong start this year with 766 yards and six touchdowns. Harrison is the most NFL-ready receiver in this year’s draft class and will be an instant help to either Jones or Williams. 

Belichick is without question the greatest coach in NFL history, but it has become clear the offense needs a hard reset. With all that potentially lies ahead for the Patriots, that reset is very doable and could be very effective if they do it right.

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About the Contributor
Jamie Taris, Managing Editor | he/him
Jamie is a senior broadcast journalism major and public relations minor from Pelham, New Hampshire. He has a deep passion for sports, especially hockey and football, and hopes to make his way into the sports media field after graduation. Outside of the Journal, Jamie is very involved with Suffolk's orientation department, and he's a member of Suffolk's Program Council. When he's not obsessing over the latest sports news, you can usually find Jamie hiking or camping in the White Mountains, or exploring the city with his friends. Follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieTaris

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  • J

    John OrtizNov 2, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    Without question with his history without Brady and his horrendous coaching tree? What a Moron.

  • E

    Eric CastrucciNov 1, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Jamie, A number of good thoughts here but spending on other teams’ free agents is not the magic elixir. I’d like to see them lock up Dugger, Oche, Bourne, where they are in the system, draft well this year, and continue to rebuild. Sign the players who are here with value vs. letting them walk away and sprinkle in a few key free agents. Spending the money, however, is not a strong suit for the Patriots.