Can Bill Belichick rebuild the Patriots into a contender?

However, one of Belichick's greatest strengths as the Patriots' general contractor over the past 24 seasons has been his lack of emotion when someone no longer has a long-term fit or future with the team. Better to break up a year early than a year late.

Using Belichick's own logic, the only question Krafts should entertain when deciding Belichick's fate is is he the right person to rebuild the Patriots and get them back into contention? Nothing else mattered—not his noble act, not his respectable status, not the solid play of his defense.

This is how bloodless Belichick will decide. That's the ideology that underpinned New England's two decades of unprecedented success, no exception.

Former Patriots quarterback Chad Brown was a guest on “Casper & Murray” on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Dec. 23. He acknowledged the difficulty of cutting ties with Belichick:

“You can't help but think, 'Well, what would Bill Belichick do?' You know after the stories of Randy Moss and Richard Seymour and Vakil Milloy, there are countless guys who still had something to offer but were let go because of personality, contract or the team moving forward – a variety of reasons why the Patriots moved on over certain Patriots. You'd say Bill would get rid of Bill.

“He didn't perform well, it's always about performance. To steal a phrase directly from Bill Belichick, what's best for a football team.

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“At the same time … it's not like the plans and the X's and O's of football have left Bill Belichick. Could he use some staff help? He certainly can. “

A half-size like this could be the elegant solution Robert Croft was looking for. However, the concern is that Belichick is not the right person to fix this situation, as he is unable to fully recognize the depth of the problem and is too set in his ways.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft must decide if Bill Belichick is the right person to bring the Patriots back into contention.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

The 4-12 Patriots reflect their coach's personality for better and worse.

Their effort, dedication and focus never wavered. congratulations. However, they could not fully and unequivocally accept their performance. A steady stream of players, Starting with Matthew Juden in Week 2Arguably the Patriots aren't a bad team.

Denial isn't just about the Patriots running defensive majors.

Suddenly, the bottom line bill revolves around stories of close losses and competitiveness.

You can't lower the bar because you can't reach it anymore.

Since their 9-4 start to the 2021 season, the Patriots are 13-25 overall. That .342 winning percentage is fourth-worst in the NFL, trailing only the Chicago Bears (12-25), Carolina Panthers (9-28), and Arizona Cardinals (9-29).

Also, three-quarters of their 12 wins over the past two seasons have come against backups, bad QBs or borderline starters: Zach Wilson (three), Mitch Trubisky (two), Jacoby Brissett, Sam Ehlinger, Colt McCoy and Teddy Bridgewater/Skylar Thompson.

It doesn't scream “some changes from the Super Bowl controversy.”

Belichick has been unable or unwilling to fully recognize his team's shortcomings and his own for a while. The day after the 30-point playoff loss to the Bills to end the 21 campaign, he said, “Last night's game was the least competitive game we've played. So are we like that or was it just a bad night?

He was leaning toward a bad night when a warning indicator flashed on his decision-making dashboard.

The team must adapt its personnel philosophies to the modern NFL and abandon the myth that organization and coaching are primarily responsible for dynasty. That's what Belichick sold the Krafts.

Is Belichick ready to walk away from his belief system 49 years into his NFL coaching career? Suspicious.

Belichick's other concern as the pilot or co-pilot of the team's reboot is an inherent conflict of interest. At age 71, Belichick has 333 career wins, just 15 behind Dan Shula (347) for the NFL record.

Belichick's superpower was his ability to balance the short-term and the long-term. While it may have cost the Patriots a Super Bowl here or there (see: Branch, Deion, et al. 2006), no one has done it better.

But since Shula is in his training crosshairs, he has become very myopic.

For example, the Patriots' failure to land pending free agents at the NFL trade deadline seemed self-serving. Trading pass rusher Josh Uche, who played 35 percent of the defensive snaps in 14 games even with a season-ending injury to Juden, would make sense. That's down slightly from the 38 percent he posted last season when he racked up 11.5 sacks.

To improve the team's draft capital through 2024, Belichick would either have to part ways with safety Kyle Tucker and right tackle Mike Onvenu — or ineffective left tackle Trent Brown.

Belichick can't or won't with his team going 2-6. They went 2-6.

Were those decisions made for the good of the team or for his own good?

Trading Josh Uche may have been in Bill Belichick's best interest, but the coach made no move with the pending free agent.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

If the Patriots want to move on to a certain QB instead of waiting for something to fall to them like Mack Jones in 2021, they'll need all the draft capital they can muster to fill the holes around QB.

To take Sam Darnold in 2018, the Jets no. In moving up from No. 6 to No. 2, it cost two second-round picks and a 2019 second-rounder.

The Patriots have more than $61 million in cap space this season, but after the Great Spend of 2021, when they set the record for guaranteed money, Belichick can't spend that money wisely.

He can't shake any decision about Belichick Its own kind Success and resume. How the Patriots got here, relying on past success.

Getting the Patriots back into contention won't be an easy task, and unfortunately, it doesn't look like it for the greatest coach to ever walk an NFL sideline.


Christopher L. Casper is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him @cgasper And on Instagram @cgaspersports.

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