Bill Belichick is arguably the greatest coach in NFL history. One would assume he has a fairly long leash with the New England Patriots, the franchise he’s guided to six Super Bowl titles since the 2001 season.
That said, the 2020 campaign — Belichick’s first in wake of Tom Brady’s departure — was a disappointment, with New England finishing 7-9. So much so that former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington believes Belichick might soon find himself on the hot seat if the Patriots don’t improve in 2021.
“Having the type of season that they had last year can make you rethink a whole lot of things that you did in the past. That seat is warm for Bill Belichick,” Arrington said last week on FS1’s “First Things First.” “And that might sound crazy for some people, but Bill Belichick has to have a good season this year. And you know why? Because there are whispers — ‘It was Tom. It was always Tom. It couldn’t have been anything else but Tom.’ And Bill Belichick has to show before he gets too far away from Tom Brady leaving that it was not Tom Brady; that it was, in fact and indeed, the system of what Bill Belichick built in New England.”
Complicating matters for New England is uncertainty at the quarterback position. The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton before shelling out a boatload of money in free agency to bolster the rest of their roster, but he’s coming off an underwhelming first season in Foxboro. It would be wise for Belichick to seek an upgrade or, at the very least, competition for Newton.
The Patriots have been linked to several quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, with ESPN’s Todd McShay last week projecting New England to trade up from No. 15 to select Ohio State QB Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick. This seems farfetched, as Fields could be long gone by then, but it definitely raises the question of how aggressive the Patriots should be in targeting their next franchise quarterback.
“So, (Belichick) has pressure on him, for sure. But I don’t think it’s realistic to think that he’s going to get a quarterback of Justin Fields’ caliber at No. 11,” Arrington said last Friday. “He would have to make a more aggressive move in the draft, and that is uncharacteristic of Bill Belichick, and I don’t see that happening.”
Well, it sounds like Belichick might be taking a different approach to this year’s draft, a potentially significant development given New England’s recent problems in that area. What that means for the Patriots’ pursuit of a QB remains to be seen, but the team needs to infuse some more young talent later this month — or else maybe the heat really will be turned up in Foxboro before too long.