When reporters asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick about a burgeoning quarterback controversy, he shouldn’t have scoffed. He should have been grateful.
The focus on Tom Brady has kept many from looking at the guy squarely responsible for the current state of the team — Belichick himself.
The head coach and de facto G.M. has been heralded as a genius for much of the last 13 years, and rightfully so. Belichick has found a way to keep the team competitive on a consistent basis in an age of parity and a salary cap.
But the quality of the roster has eroded in recent years. The offensive line presently stinks. While the departure of long-time line coach Dante Scarnecchia likely played a role in the ability of the line to play its role the right way, the players aren’t good. Which makes the decision to dump guard Logan Mankins after he refused to take a pay cut even more bizarre. Belichick miscalculated the ability of the line to thrive without Mankins, and as a result the Patriots could miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.
No one can question Belichick’s coaching ability. But when it comes to handling the personnel side of the operation, he’s either losing his fastball or he needs more help. Because it’s not enough to find ways to trade down or to draft backup quarterbacks lower than perhaps they should have gone. At some point, the players need to be good enough to play.
Right now, they’re not. And that lands at the feet of the guy who runs the show.