Could this be the New England Patriots’ final season with Bill Belichick as head coach?
Colin Cowherd thinks so.
The FS1 talking head on Friday made five of his “riskiest, biggest predictions” for the 2022 NFL season, and Belichick’s future was among the topics addressed. Cowherd believes Belichick, now in Year 23 with New England, will retire after the upcoming campaign.
“First of all, retirement’s weird. He likes to golf, he’s got a house in Jupiter, Florida and a beautiful girlfriend. Nice round number of 70 (years old),” Cowherd said on FS1. “He hasn’t named coordinators. He’s got kids on the staff. The reality is (Patriots owner) Bob Kraft and Belichick have always had a little bit of a turbulent relationship. Kraft was close with (Tom) Brady — every book you read about New England, Kraft tolerated a lot of the surliness of Belichick.
“They were 28th-ranked in passing (in 2021). DeVante Parker helps a little. I don’t think they’re close to Buffalo. Belichick doesn’t necessarily love what’s happened in the league, where players have more power and defense isn’t as important. Seventy is a good round number. I think they finish third, he walks off into the sunset to his beautiful Jupiter, Florida home, golfs, is a highly paid consultant for the league. But it’s going backwards — weird, wonky, reached on a lot of draft picks. I think Belichick retires as the greatest coach of all time, after another 9-8 year.”
It’s not the craziest prediction. Belichick is widely considered the best coach in NFL history, with eight Super Bowl rings (six as head coach of the Patriots and two as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants), so he really has nothing left to prove at this stage of his career, unless he’s for whatever reason hell-bent on showing he can lead New England to a title without Tom Brady.
The Patriots have had some ups and downs in their two seasons since Brady’s departure, going 7-9 in 2020 and 10-7 in 2021. There’s some reason for optimism, with quarterback Mac Jones coming off a strong rookie year, but there also are questions about New England’s ceiling in 2022.
Perhaps this really will be Belichick’s last hurrah, in which case it’s been a wild run, to say the least.