The New England Patriots’ 17-3 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday may have marked the end of an era, with speculation swirling that it was Bill Belichick’s last game as head coach. Belichick was characteristically evasive when asked about his future after the game.
Season-Ending Loss Caps Disappointing Campaign
The Patriots struggled mightily on offense against the Jets, gaining just 103 total yards. Rookie quarterback Henry Bourne went 9 of 23 for 103 yards and threw 3 interceptions. It was a fitting end to a frustrating season for New England, which finished 8-9 and will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.
“It was a disappointing season,” Belichick said. “The bottom line is, we have to perform better than this…We just weren’t consistent enough.”
The Patriots were consistently average all season, never winning more than two games in a row. Injuries took a toll, especially losing standout safety Kyle Dugger in October. But many of the team’s issues stemmed from shortcomings on offense, as a rotating cast of quarterbacks failed to effectively replace Tom Brady.
“We never really established the kind of consistency as an offensive team that we needed,” Belichick admitted.
| 2023 Patriots Season Results |
| Record | 8-9 |
| Points For | 21.1 per game (20th) |
| Points Against | 20.2 per game (8th) |
| Turnover Differential | -5 |
While the defense remained solid, the Patriots sorely lacked playmakers on offense outside of veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman. The run game was inconsistent and the quarterback play uninspiring. These struggles resulted in New England missing the postseason despite fielding a top-10 defense.
Speculation Swirls Around Belichick’s Future
Immediately after the loss to the Jets, attention shifted to Belichick’s future. At 71 years old after 23 seasons in New England, there is growing belief this could be it for the legendary head coach.
Belichick himself did little to squash that speculation at his postgame press conference, saying he plans to meet with owner Robert Kraft in the coming days to evaluate this season and discuss what’s ahead.
“Robert and I will talk about it I’m sure at some point relatively soon,” Belichick stated vaguely. “I’m sure we’ll have a number of conversations.”
There have been rumblings since last offseason of friction between Belichick and Kraft over the direction of the franchise. According to reports, Kraft pushed for the Patriots to select Mac Jones in the 2021 draft while Belichick preferred another quarterback. There was said to be further disagreement this past offseason when Belichick dealt away some key contributors for future draft capital.
With his contract up after the 2024 season, many around the league believe Belichick could opt to walk away if he feels he no longer has full control over personnel decisions in New England.
Multiple Teams Could Pursue Belichick If Available
If Belichick and Kraft do decide to mutually part ways, there will be no shortage of suitors for the 6-time Super Bowl champion coach’s services.
Both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers have been floated as potential destinations, with both NFC South teams potentially looking for new head coaches this offseason. The Washington Commanders have also reportedly shown interest in speaking with Belichick if he becomes available.
The Raiders and Buccaneers could explore making a run at Belichick as well if they move on from Josh McDaniels or Todd Bowles respectively. Sources around the league believe Steve Bisciotti would green light the Ravens to enter the mix too if Harbaugh leaves Baltimore.
Wherever he lands, Belichick appeals to teams because of his unmatched resume and penchant for rapid rebuilds. His no-nonsense approach could also fit well on a team needing more discipline. But Belichick turns 72 in April, leading to fair questions about how many more years he wants to continue coaching.
|Potential Belichick Suitors
|Las Vegas Raiders
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Many Factors Could Keep Belichick in New England
While Belichick departing New England would send shockwaves through the league, him staying put is still a very real possibility.
Financially there are complications to moving on, as Belichick is still owed nearly $16 million over the next two seasons. His contract situation gives Kraft leverage to block other teams from pursuing Belichick.
There’s also Belichick’s loyalty to the Patriots organization, which gave him his first head coaching opportunity back in 2000. Belichick spoke passionately about that loyalty after the game.
“I appreciate all of Robert’s support over the last 23 years. He’s been extremely supportive and I appreciate that,” Belichick said. “I’ve loved my experience here in New England, all 36 years.”
From a roster standpoint, a strong draft could put the Patriots back on track as a contender as soon as 2024. Belichick has always relished the opportunity to quickly rebuild rosters through the draft. With Bourne showing potential, plus renewed resources to address problem areas, the makings of a bounce-back year may already be brewing.
Of course, Belichick’s health and energy level will also factor into his thought process. As the losingest coach in history, walking away before being asked to resign has to be somewhat appealing. Ultimately only Belichick knows if he has the drive for at least one more rebuild with the Patriots.
For now, both Belichick and the organization remain mum about specific plans. But with the disappointment of 2023 freshly stirred up by Sunday’s loss, all indications point to some major decisions coming soon that will shape the future in New England.
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