Bill Belichick has won six Super Bowls and more games as a head coach than anyone but Don Shula.
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That won’t save his job in New England if the Patriots keep losing.
Belichick’s future is a hot topic as the Patriots (2-7) prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts (4-5) in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday. There was even speculation this week that Belichick could be fired if New England loses to Indianapolis.
Belichick led an unprecedented two-decade streak of excellence, but the Patriots have steadily declined since Tom Brady left after the 2019 season. New England’s dismal start this year is the franchise’s worst start since Belichick’s first season with the team in 2000.
Since Brady’s departure, the Patriots are 27-33, including a playoff loss. In 24 seasons as head coach at New England and five earlier at Cleveland, Belichick is 82-97 in games where Brady hasn’t started.
Belichick will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it has become clear that Brady was the reason for New England’s success.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft avoided talking to reporters at NFL meetings last month and has not commented on Belichick’s status this season. However, during the league’s spring meetings, he made it clear that he expected more from the team in 2023.
“I think Bill is exceptional at what he does,” Belichick said in March. “I gave him the freedom to make the choices and do the things that need to be done. His football intelligence and knowledge are second to none, compared to what I have seen. But at the end of the day, this is a business. You either execute and win, or you don’t. That’s where we are. We are in a transition phase. I think we’ve taken a number of steps this year that I personally feel comfortable with. And I still believe in Bill.”
Kraft also emphasized the importance of making the playoffs.
“We’re all about winning and we’re doing what we can to win,” he said. “That’s what our focus is on. It’s very important to me that we make it to the play-offs.”
Even if the Patriots somehow win their last eight games, that still might not be good enough to make the playoffs.
Belichick is 71 and spent nearly 50 years coaching in the NFL, so he could sail away on a yacht and not look back when his time in New England was up. But if he wants to keep going and chase Shula’s record — Belichick is 17 wins out of first place — there’s a good chance he’ll get a shot.
Here are five teams that could hire Belichick next:
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers (4-4) have underachieved in Brandon Staley’s 2 1/2 seasons. They reached the playoffs last season, but lost a 27-0 lead in a loss to Jacksonville. Unless Staley wins a playoff game this season, things could change. Belichick would get a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert and he would sell tickets in a stadium usually filled with opposing fans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Todd Bowles won a division title last season but is 11-15 since replacing Bruce Arians, so he could be out if the Buccaneers (3-5) don’t find a way to win the mediocre NFC South. Bringing Brady to the Sunshine State worked out well for the Buccaneers, who won a Super Bowl in 2020 in the first season of No. 12. Bucs general manager Jason Licht had two stints in the front office under Belichick, so they have a relation. Tampa ownership previously had success hiring a big name when the team traded for Jon Gruden, who led the Buccaneers to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title in 2002.
The Commanders are 4-5 and Ron Rivera has not had a winning record in Washington, although he won a division title in 2020 at 7-9. It seems inevitable that the new ownership group will want to hire their own man. Hiring Belichick would win over a fan base that suffered under Daniel Snyder’s tenure. The Commanders have talented players on defense and young quarterback Sam Howell has potential, so they could be an attractive destination for Belichick.
Matt Eberflus is 6-21 and the Bears (3-7) could have their sixth coach since 2012. They could end up with two picks in the top five and have to make a decision on quarterback Justin Fields. Belichick’s recent record in the draft doesn’t help him, but he would bring immediate credibility to an organization that has had one winning season since 2013.
Mike McCarthy may have to reach the Super Bowl to stay in Dallas. The Cowboys (5-3) have a lot of talent, but haven’t had playoff success. Jerry Jones could lose patience if the Cowboys fail to reach the NFC title game for the 28th straight year. Jones’ ego may not be able to handle giving Belichick control, but he once hired Bill Parcells, so it’s not unrealistic.
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