Bill Belichick did arguably the best coaching job of his career this past season, but at least one former general manager seems to think he should have handled the New England Patriots’ offense a little differently.
Former Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo hasn’t worked in the NFL since he was fired after the 2011 season, so he’s had plenty of time to critique other organizations over the last two years, and apparently the Patriots were at the top of that list.
Angelo put Belichick and some of the Patriots’ recent decisions under the microscope in an extensive analysis he released on Sulia, a subject-based social network, on Monday. While lauding Belichick for an impressive coaching job in 2013, the former GM was extremely critical of the Patriots’ coach for the way he built their offense.
“Their offense was devoid of the most critical parts needed for their quarterback to play to his ceiling: Established, go-to guys at tight end and receiver,” Angelo said of the Patriots. “You can argue they had [Rob] Gronkowski coming back, but he was coming off his second back surgery, as well as having surgery on his wrist. You couldn’t count on him. He’s a chandelier. Whatever you get out of him is ‘gravy’, because of his medical history.”
Gronkowski missed the first six weeks of the season while recovering from his offseason surgeries, but he settled into his usual All-Pro form almost immediately upon his return. He eventually suffered a season-ending ACL tear, feeding into Angelo’s point about him being fragile. However, when putting together the team for the 2013 season, the Patriots didn’t originally expect such a delay in Gronkowski’s return, nor that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez would be released due to his connection to a murder investigation. By the time Belichick and the Patriots were first aware of such things, the draft was already long past and any desirable free agent had already been sniped up.
Angelo completely overlooked the impact of unexpectedly losing Hernandez in his analysis, and instead continued to critique Belichick’s inability to surround Tom Brady, who the former GM called “an elite QB,” with “top-notch receivers.”
“New England’s problem is they fell in love with their system. A fatal mistake for successful coaches. I said Bill Belichick did one of his finest coaching jobs this year and I know it. I’m a great admirer and would agree with Bill Cowher when he said that Belichick would go down as the greatest coach in football. But in this case, his thinking was misguided.
“This shows you regardless of how great a coach is, if his philosophy isn’t applicable to the strengths of his personnel, then it’s unsound, not in principal, but in relevance to his personnel. And in football, the labor force starts with CEO of the offense, the quarterback.”
In addition to his criticism of Belichick, Angelo also took something of a veiled shot at wide receiver Julian Edelman, who had 105 catches and 1,056 yards in 2013, giving him credit for his production while referring to him as a “poor man’s Wes Welker.”
Maybe the Patriots do need to change the makeup of their offense in order to get back to the Super Bowl, but considering the success of the Patriots’ offense over the past few seasons and all that they had to overcome in 2013 especially, it seems like Angelo might be at least somewhat off base in his assessment.