New England Reflections: Time to Fire Bill Belichick
Nearly a week after the Super Bowl, the observations have come into clearer view
By Cam Giangrande
How can a person be so right about a Super Bowl prediction and yet so wrong? That’s how I felt this past week. I correctly predicted that the Eagles defense couldn’t stop Tom Brady. The Patriots didn’t punt once. Brady threw for 505 yards and broke his own record. He threw three touchdowns with no interceptions. The entire offense produced over 600 total yards.
I correctly predicted that this Patriots defense wasn’t that good and wouldn’t keep the Eagles under 20 points. They scored 22 by halftime. I did say that Brady wouldn’t be able to bring the team back from the grave once again. Although he got close, and actually pulled ahead 33-32 with 10 minutes left in the game, he ultimately had two chances to come back after the defense gave up the lead, and couldn’t do it.
I incorrectly predicted the Patriots would win 41-27. When they were ahead 33-32, I really thought the Pats would make a stop, or produce a turnover, giving them the ball back to score another touchdown, and get over that 40-point plateau. To the credit of Eagles coach Doug Pederson, he never wilted throughout the game. At the end of the first half he went for it on fourth down, and scored a touchdown. And, with just under six minutes left in the game, at their 45-yard line he went for it again on fourth down, and got the pivotal first down which ultimately led to the game-winning touchdown.
The Patriots deserved to lose. More importantly, the Eagles deserved to win. But frankly, Tom Brady deserved to win too. The biggest question is, why didn’t Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler play? Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are saying some hogwash about schemes, formations, and packages. When asked, Belichick simply said his decisions are meant to put the best team on the field. There is no circumstance that the Patriots defense is better without Butler in the game. It’s ridiculous! During the regular season he played in over 97% of the Patriots defensive snaps.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 6, 2018
Obviously this move was made for some disciplinary reason. Here’s the thing, unless he did something that would have detained him behind bars, what could he have done? And, in benching him, who did it ultimately hurt; Butler, or the team, (and their millions of fans)? And also, Butler is an unrestricted free agent. What message is Belichick trying to send to him? It’s not like Butler is under contract for the next two seasons and Belichick wanted to teach him a lesson. Belichick did not do what was in the Patriots best interest. Why was Butler even on the sideline in uniform; to humiliate him? If whatever he did was so egregious, he should have been sent home. But this makes no sense.
Robert Kraft should fire Belichick. Anything less is unacceptable. He needs to sit Belichick down and ask him point blank, “Why did you bench Malcolm?” Since there is no answer that would be acceptable, Kraft has an obligation to the rest of the team, and Patriots Nation to cut ties once and for all. Belichick will no doubt be offended again that the owner of the team would actually dare to question his football decisions.
Matt Patricia is going to the Lions, but at least keeping Josh McDaniels will hold some continuity for the team heading into this off-season filled with question marks. Aside from Butler, names like Matthew Slater, Dion Lewis, and Sebastian Vollmer are all free agents. Add to that, the biggest bombshell might be Rob Gronkowski contemplating retirement. If he actually retires, the team is in deep trouble. And the people who have been rooting for the demise of team will finally have something else to cheer about.
This loss could be the harbinger of things to come. The reality is, the hallmark of this team has always been execution, and in this game they just didn’t execute when it mattered. A well designed double reverse with a pass back to the QB went off Brady’s fingertips. A botched snap forced Gostkowski to miss a chip shot field goal: not to mention a missed extra point. A suspect decision to go for it on 4th and five instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal proved to be the wrong one. And finally, trying an ill-conceived reverse on the kickoff with only a minute left in the game; was unfathomable. It took more valuable seconds off the clock than a normal return would have, and it actually cost the Pats important yardage.
In fact, the most amazing stat that came out of the game is something that had never happened before: in the regular season, or playoffs. Brady is the first quarterback in the HISTORY of the game, to throw for over 500 yards and have at least three touchdowns while throwing zero interceptions…AND LOSE! It’s never happened. As I said, Brady deserved to win.
Belichick has lost the locker room. There is a growing number of players who are tweeting and using social media speaking out against the coach. If this were a ship, Belichick would have been thrown overboard. Everything comes to an end. It’s been a long run, but Kraft needs to make this move.
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