Love him or hate him, Bill Belichick’s legacy is unquestioned

Love him or hate him, Bill Belichick's legacy is unquestioned

Bill Belichick is a grown human being and can do whatever he wants. If he wishes to continue coaching football after his 72nd birthday to win a Super Bowl without Tom Brady, or simply because he is not ready for the silence of retirement, more power to him.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is putting out the Adam Schefter report from 2019, but about Belichick. Schefter said in late October of that year the least likely scenario for Brady was that he would remain with the New England Patriots at the end of the season. Florio reported on Wednesday that the longest odds on Belichick’s professional future, if posted on a sportsbook, would be that he returns to the Patriots next season.

In three and a half seasons without Tom Brady, the Patriots have made the playoffs only once, losing a wild-card game to the Buffalo Bills. They are well on their way to their third losing season since Brady’s departure. It is time for a change in Foxborough. While Belichick is still one helluva defensive coach, his decision to go through last season without a real offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach was horrendous.

He has also not done a great job at assembling the roster for many years. Julian Edelman has been their best wide receiver since Randy Moss. They traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Mac Jones and it is looking like he too will not be with the Patriots much longer. The Patriots’ offensive line was inconsistent last season and has been a mash unit for much of this one. There is also the $70 million that was spent on pass catchers last season to have no No. 1 target. The attempt to rectify that problem this season was to sign Mike Gesicki. And never forget, in a draft in which A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and even Diontae Johnson were available, Belichick spent the final pick of the first round on N’Keal Harry.

The post Brady mistakes are grand, and the longtime Patriots QB was covering up a lot of holes in his final years there. Wherever Belichick goes next, he needs to not have final say on personnel. All of that being said, regardless of how the rest of his career plays out, no number of victories or losses will change his legacy as quite possibly the greatest NFL head coach of all time.

Even before the Patriots’ unparalleled two-decade run, Belichick had already shown a glimpse of greatness with the Cleveland Browns. They won their first playoff game of the new millennium during the 2020 season. Before that, their most recent postseason win was the 1994 team that was coached by Belichick. Coincidentally, they beat the Patriots in a wild-card game after finishing the season 11-5. In 1995 they were rolling to start the year, only to find out midseason that the franchise would be moved to Baltimore in 1996. The season rolled down hill and into the Cuyahoga River from there.

Belichick would go on to coach the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, with Brady not being anywhere near as good as he would become in later seasons. They went 11-5 the season that Brady missed nearly all of with a torn ACL. While the titles are impressive, what may be even more so is from 2011-2018 the Patriots played in eight conference championship games.

In the beginning Belichick covered for Brady’s inexperience, and in the end, Brady’s mastery of the position — and Rob Gronkowski being an agile glacier at tight end — hid some of the Belichick’s personnel mistakes at wide receiver.

The competitor in Belichick is probably not happy that Brady won a Super Bowl without him and his team’s level of play remained elite the last few years of his career. If Belichick wants to continue to coach to get that “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes” out his mouth, he should. But if after this season is over he decides that in his 70s he no longer wants to coach football, his legacy is no different than if he wins another Super Bowl.

Belichick is performatively grumpy and not outstanding when it comes to player personnel, but he is also a legendary NFL figure. He could quit before the Patriots play their next game, or coach five more years without making the postseason, and his legacy will still be in cement.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.