The Bill Belichick hot seat rumors have officially arrived, and if he were any other coach, they would have emerged from the woodwork years ago. He's presided over the worst season and a quarter of New England Patriots football in over two decades, and everything bad that's happened is directly his fault. As coach and GM, he's failed to find talented players and failed even more in his responsibility to put the less-talented players in the best position possible to succeed. The Patriot Way is crumbling before our eyes and it seemed like everybody knew it except the Patriots themselves.
That may not be the case any longer. Jeff Howe, national NFL insider for The Athletic who was formerly on the Patriots beat for many years, penned an article this morning titled "If you think Patriots owner Robert Kraft wouldn’t fire Bill Belichick, you’re wrong." In it was one crucial tidbit that suggests Belichick's job security isn't nearly as secure as we all might've assumed, given his resume and relationship with Kraft:
On multiple occasions in recent years, he has lamented the team’s lack of a postseason victory in the post-Brady era. Kraft has grown frustrated, if not downright angry, over this shortage of success, according to people close to the situation.
The rest of the piece is spent explaining that, essentially, Kraft has invested too much time and money in the football product to let Belichick continue to fail. Many, including this writer, assumed Belichick was never going to get canned. That he'd effectively earned the right to chase the all-time head coaching wins record, making short-term decisions at the cost of long-term success, because he's been the greatest coach the league has seen in the last 20 years.
But Howe is extremely well-sourced and if he's saying that's not the case... then the impossible is happening. Bill Belichick is coaching for his job.
It should not be a shock, obviously. This Patriots team looks utterly horrendous and Howe suggests Belichick's alienation of Mac Jones last year in favor of Matt freaking Patricia might have ripple effects on this year. The benefits Belichick is supposed to bring-- an extremely disciplined approach to coaching that allows his teams to win on the margins-- have been gone for years. And he has been an abject failure as a talent evaluator, as laid out by Howe in the article.
Even with all that unfolding before our eyes it's still difficult to come to terms with the idea that Belichick is as susceptible to hot seat rumors as anybody else. Maybe they should have started a while ago. Few coaches would survive what Belichick pulled last year. But even if the Patriots bounce back with a win against the Raiders this week, it's hard to see these rumors going away.
The cat is out of the bag now. Belichick is on the hot seat.