FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 11: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick, as we are often reminded, plays chess while everyone else plays checkers. The essence of this shot is that Belichick is often several steps ahead of everyone else, on and off the field.
Now here’s the part that may surprise you: we’re not going to discuss this point because it’s generally true. Belichick is nothing but a plannerthinking much longer term when everyone else is focusing on the short term.
So isn’t it entirely possible that Belichick is doing precisely that now with his roster and, more specifically, his coaching staff?
Here’s the point: As for Belichick, in particular, he’s now third in NFL history with 321 wins (including the playoffs), just three behind George Halas (324) and 26 behind Don Shula ( 347). In all likelihood, Belichick will need at least three years to overtake Shula, and he’s never been one to take shortcuts or use quick fixes. What he’s trying to do is rebuild the Patriots from the inside out and then hand them over to someone else, ideally someone who’s been raised and educated in their values and principles.
As has been duly noted, Belichick never cared how Bill Parcells left the Patriots after the 1996 season or, for that matter, how Parcells left any organization. Belichick reportedly promised to leave an organization (in this case, the Patriots) in better shape whenever he chose to leave. Now the Patriots are in year 3 AT – After Tom – and Belichick has made the (very) curious (and downright crazy?) decision to hand his offense over to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, which seems like a disservice to the Mac Jones quarterback. .
Do I like it? No. Do I think this will work? No. But let’s play along. What if Belichick looked at all this and thought something like this: I have to teach Matt and Joe how to be offensive coaches. I need to set them up with a system for the game to come – and a system that everyone can learn relatively easily. Mac won’t like it at first, but I’ll be there to watch over him and help him, and there will be bumps along the way. But in two or three years, when I’m ready to leave, the organization should be in good shape.
Now, is that idealistic? Yes. Can it work? Don’t feel like it. Does Bill emphasize the wrong things, putting his own personal value system (instilled in apprentices Patricia and Judge) ahead of people who might be more qualified? It certainly feels that way. But he’s not short-sighted either. And if you’re looking for an explanation as to why Bill Belichick would have taken this approach with Mac Jones and his offense, well, maybe the only plausible explanation is that Belichick is thinking far longer term than any of them. ‘between us.
It’s either that or he’s completely lost.