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Where did it all go wrong for Bill Belichick and the Patriots?

2RYMFPA Arlington, United States. 01st Oct, 2023. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches his team play the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, October 1, 2023. The Cowboys defeated the Patriots 38-3. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

The combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady was virtually unstoppable in the NFL. It led to an unprecedented level of success for a single franchise.

When Brady eventually left, he proved that he could achieve similar success somewhere else even deep into his 40s, but that has left Belichick presiding over a steady decline in New England since.

Now 1-5 in 2023, the Patriots are staring down the barrel of their worst record since Belichick first arrived, and maybe their worst since the early 1990s.

But where did it all go wrong?

Obviously, any time you lose a Hall of Fame quarterback and don’t replace him with something similar, you’re going to suffer a huge drop-off. But even independent of how the Patriots' passers since Brady have performed, there is a growing understanding of just how many flaws peak Brady was able to paper over during his time there.

Brady took worse receiving corps than the team currently has to the Super Bowl, let alone deep into the playoffs. Flawed players who had a role within a functioning system suddenly just look like fatally flawed players without a quarterback good enough to raise the tide for all boats.

Belichick the General Manager

The crux of the issue is that Belichick the talent evaluator has failed.

Forget quarterback for a moment. The Patriots took a shot on Mac Jones, and as of now, that looks to be a bad decision. But the bigger issue is just the totality of their drafting in recent years.

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Sure, the Patriots stumble upon the occasional late-round gem or solid player, but there has been very little in the way of reliable and consistent contributors at positions of high value in recent years.


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