The Patriots Have A Great Opportunity To Reboot Post-Bill Belichick, But It Sounds Like Their Succession Plan Is More Of The Same

Bill Belichick New England Patriots
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A quarter of NFL teams are searching for a new head coach, but nobody has a more conspicuous vacancy than the New England Patriots after they decided to part with the GOAT Bill Belichick. In a span of 24 seasons in New England, Belichick went on a run that I’m confident in saying we’ll never see again in my lifetime.

Look at any of the stats being posted about Belichick’s legendary tenure in Foxborough. Regardless of your feelings on Spygate, you have to admit: the Patriots were lapping everyone else in the NFL for about two decades.

What an absurd week in coaching news. Mike Vrabel is out in Tennessee. Pete Carroll is moving to the Seahawks front office. Nick Saban stunned everyone with his sudden retirement.

Here’s my issue with the early reports of the Patriots’ succession plan, though. It sounds like they’re not eager to move off the traditional Belichickian Patriot Way. If only there were countless examples of this not working elsewhere.

Schefty is reporting that ex-Pat linebacker Jerod Mayo is a real contender to succeed Belichick. Mayo’s name has popped up over the years quite often, but also on New England’s radar are another former player in Vrabel and a longtime Belichick assistant in Brian Flores.

I understand you want to maintain the essence of what your organizational identity is, but this just lacks imagination to me. New England is never going to be what it was in the post-Belichick era, unless they really luck out with the third overall pick and get a superstar quarterback.

We all know the draft is a crapshoot. Look at the historic 2021 class. People are asking if No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence should even get the bag. Zach Wilson and Trey Lance were busts. Belichick drafted Mac Jones 15th overall that year, and benched him no fewer than three times this past season.

Not to say Vrabel isn’t a good coach. He definitely is. His homecoming to Foxborough would make a lot of sense. I just worry that given the state of this team and its offensive personnel, owner Robert Kraft is just going to try to bottle a knock-off version of Belichick’s culture and it’s going to blow up in his face. This should be a prestigious job. It’s a great chance for New England to get with the modern landscape of professional football with a more forward-thinking, cutting-edge offense.

Instead, it looks like the Pats are content to be insular with the top candidates for their head coaching vacancy. That type of thinking is why Belichick is leaving in the first place, and it’s why they had three losing seasons in his final four years.

At least with Vrabel, he was never a Belichick assistant and he’d likely bring Arthur Smith as his offensive coordinator, which could really help New England overhaul the offense.

I just feel like, until I see differently, it’ll either be Flores or Mayo. Flores failed spectacularly in Miami and torpedoed the confidence of Pro Bowl QB Tua Tagovailoa. Belichick’s assistants flame out everywhere because they do a cheap impression of him. Mayo has an edge being a former player, yet I could see him suffering a similar fate since there’s such a long history of it

Oh well. As much crap as I’m giving Belichick for what he’s done lately โ€” and how bad his coaching tree is when they branch out โ€” I’m so excited to see where he lands next. Atlanta and Washington seem like the most likely destinations.

It’d be so funny to see Belichick go to the Commanders, turn around a historically toxic organization, get a superstar franchise QB one pick ahead of the Patriots in the 2024 draft, and be off and running.

Since ex-Warriors GM Bob Myers is helping the Commanders on their hunt for a coach, and have a super-rich owner in Josh Harris, they’ll go big-game hunting for someone like Belichick. Plus, like Vrabel with Smith, Belichick has a built-in offensive coordinator in twice-failed NFL head coach Josh McDaniels, who absolutely crushes when Brady is his QB and he’s working for The Hoodie.

I’m preemptively feeling disappointed for Patriots fans if they go the classic “already a member of the family” route to replace Belichick. Guess it’d be less sad if it wasn’t so predictable. I hope I’m wrong! I hope the initial reports are proven wrong! We shall see.

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