Bill Belichick the G.M. isn’t nearly as good as Bill Belichick the coach. Which makes Belichick’s work as a head coach even more impressive.
Belichick the coach faces a major test over the balance of the 2017 season, based on the misjudgments of Belichick the G.M. Starting with the decision to give market-value money to cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Belichick the G.M. presumably knew what he was doing. He’d schemed against Gilmore twice a year for five years. The fact that Belichick the G.M. gave an early-days-of-free-agency deal to Gilmore, paying the price to do so, shows that Belichick the G.M. was sold on Gilmore the player. Four weeks in to the season, however, Belichick the coach has to clean up the mess that was created by Belichick the G.M., whose efforts have cobbled together the worse defense in the league.
Of course, if anyone can fix it, it’s Belichick the coach. And many assume he will. Three years ago, after the Patriots were blown out in Kansas City due in large part to a leaky offensive line, many wrote the Patriots off. It’s not happening now, in large part because the last time the Patriots were doubted, they simply turned things around and won the Super Bowl.
That’s not to say they’ll do it again this year, but the offense is working well. If Belichick the coach can make the defense just a little better, the Patriots can emerge from the morass of 2-2 teams and win the division. The real question is whether they’ll do well enough to get a bye or home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. To accomplish the latter, they’ll have to make up three games against the Chiefs over the final 12 games of the year.