Can Bill Belichick survive another non-playoff season? Robert Kraft doesn’t directly answer the question

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
Getty Images

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said plenty of interesting things during a press conference in Arizona on Monday. What he didn’t say was perhaps even more interesting.

Consider this question: “You guys have posted a losing record two of the last three seasons . . . if that happens again, could Bill [Belichick’s] job be in jeopardy, or is he here to break Don Shula’s all-time wins record and beyond?”

Kraft paused for a second or two before responding.

“Look, I’d like him to break Don Shula’s record, but I’m not looking for any our players to get great stats,” Kraft said. “We’re about winning, and doing whatever we can to win. And that’s what our focus is now. And I — it’s very important to me that we make the playoffs, and that’s what I hope happens next year.”

Obviously, the stat in question when it comes to Belichick chasing Shula’s record is wins. Arguably implicit in the response is the notion that Belichick needs to have enough wins this year in order to have a chance to compile even more wins in 2024.

Belichick needs 30 regular-season wins to catch Shula.

The Patriots may have had more wins last year, if Belichick hadn’t made former defensive coach Matt Patricia the team’s offensive coordinator. Kraft was blunt with his opinion that it was not a good idea.

“I think he got put in a difficult position,” Kraft said. “And I think it was sort of an experiment. And he worked very hard at it. And in retrospect, I don’t think it was the right thing. And I feel bad for him, because he’s such a hard worker. He got put in a difficult position.

The fact that responsibility for the experiment flows directly to Belichick quite possibly increases the pressure on Belichick to turn it around.

Yes, six Super Bowl titles mean something. But they don’t buy an indefinite run of mediocrity. At some point, the past is the past and the present is murky and the future carries insufficient promise. That’s when changes get made.

80 responses to “Can Bill Belichick survive another non-playoff season? Robert Kraft doesn’t directly answer the question

  1. Bill is definitely on the hot seat this season. This goes to show up that anybody would have won all those championships if they had Brady in NE for two decades

  2. Yankees moved on from Joe Torre, Pats can move on from Belichick if they need.

  3. Considering Belichick’s age he might want to consider signing Lamar Jackson if he wants to pass up Shula. Mac Jones might just get him fired.

  4. Ive been reliably informed Belichick is the greatest coach of all time. What could have possibly changed in the past 3 years to make him go from historically great to mediocre?

  5. Hmmm, what would Belichick do if the roles were reversed? He would have fired Kraft at the end of the 2022 season and tried his best to make sure he wouldn’t get a head coaching job again. I’m way more into Don Shula, especially after driving on the expressway named after him in Florida.

  6. Tom Landry went 3-13 in his final season. It seems that BB will have to do something similar for Kraft to act. The sad part is that there is a real chance the Patriots lose 12-13 games in 2023. Bill Belichick is 70. I’m 71 and still work part-time, though I’m nowhere as good a worker as I was 5 years ago. Same too for BB.

  7. There’s a ringing endorsement. Similar to Belichick’s regarding Mac Jones’ ability as a starting quarterback.

  8. “Yes, six Super Bowl titles mean something. But they don’t buy an indefinite run of mediocrity.”

    Unless you’re Mike Tomlin after riding Bill Cowher’s coattails to a Super Bowl victory in year two as Head Coach, then indefinite mediocrity is celebrated.

  9. For some reason I read this like the interaction between Mr Larsen and Shooter McGavin. “That’s 2 thus far, Bill”…”Oh, you can count. Good for you.”…”and you can count on me…waiting for you in the parking lot”.

  10. If they miss the playoffs again they could be picked for Hard Knocks. I guarantee Belichick will retire to avoid that possibility.

  11. Belichick and the Patriots will always have the league record for the highest fines ever paid. For cheating. Twice.

  12. Let’s not sugarcoat it. Last year wasn’t an experiment, it was a stupid decision to try to help his two buddies resurrect their failing careers. Everyone predicted failure. Everyone was right. Except Bill.

  13. Bill Belichick can stay as long as he wants. SIX Super Bowls? He should NEVER get fired.

  14. I’ve always believed Bill O’Brien came back to New England to take over for Belichick when he retires from coaching. I might be way off, but if that’s actually the case, it’s not going to be made public. Often a writer asks a question and the person isn’t motivated to answer it honestly. If they told the truth they could possibly lose draft picks. I’m not criticizing the league’s hiring policies at all. I’m just saying Robert Kraft might have a plan that he’s not sharing. I’m fine with that, too. Just trying to read tea leaves. I think Bill O’Brien is their next coach.

  15. Like I said, if it’s on him, he’d better do whatever it takes to get Lamar Jackson in the building because water pistol Mac Jones isn’t the weapon at QB you want to be bringing to the fight with the other QBs in the division.

  16. Just watched the Belichick & Saban show on the NFL Network and the one thing that really stood out to me was how pathetic the haters in the media are to these two incredibly great coaches. Not that they whined about them, they wouldn’t, they never gave them a second thought.

  17. In order to win in the NFL, a team has to have an elite quarterback, great coach and good all around team. Brady couldn’t have won all those Super Bowls without Belichick, and vice versa. I believe the defense and kicker also played an important part.

  18. This reminds me of when Andy Reid promoted Juan Castillo, an offensive line coach, to the defensive coordinator position. It was also a disaster, and Big Red didn’t last much longer as head coach. I never understood that coaching hire, and Belichick made a similar head-scratching move with Patricia. Perhaps he can turn it around this year with better offensive coaching, but it could also signal the beginning of the end of his era in New England. I will say, Andy Reid has done better than ever in his second act. Maybe there is life after New England for Belichick.

  19. Should have retired when Brady left. Now it’s just clear that he is mediocre without him. Or should I say, everyone is being reminded that he is mediocre without Brady.

  20. “ Yes, six Super Bowl titles mean something. But they don’t buy an indefinite run of mediocrity.”

    Uhhh yeah, actually, it does. Belichick should control his own future with that team for everything he did for them

  21. Yes, and Bob Kraft d/n answer the question because it’s ridiculous.

  22. Belichick had a long leash for years because of Brady. Since the greatest of all time left and retired, the Patriots for some reason can’t win their “awful division” or even a wild card game. It’s almost like the system was always Tom.

  23. Of course Kraft wants Bill to get the record.
    He’s probably good for 12 or 13 wins this year. He’ll pass Shula sometime next season (another 14 or 15 wins) and then retire. Doesn’t that seem feasible and reasonable, Boston fans?

  24. Just like another poster said, it is 19 more wins to pass Shula. They count the playoff victories in that record. Exactly what they did when Shula passed Halas. I have a feeling that a major part of Bill B continuing to coach is to break the record. Shula and Bill B didn’t exactly like each other.

  25. I’m definitely not a Pats fan, but I can recognize greatness when I see it. Those first 3 SBs were more Belichick than Brady. Seriously, guys? Brady threw 2 total TDs during his first SB run. As a coach, all you can do is make decisions and BB is the master. Making the playoffs with Mac Jones was a minor miracle within itself. Give that man his due. Hands down, the best coach of all time. Left no stone unturned in the minute details of crafting an NFL game plan. But you guys with your silly wisdom could not possibly grasp anything that deep. In your mind, Dilfer is better than Marino all because he won a SB and Purdy is the 5th best QB because he won 2 playoff games. Be nice to see in depth analysis sometimes on these boards instead of bias and lazy narratives like player A QB won more playoff games than player B QB, so player A is better like the other players on the team and coaches don’t matter. You sound like 6-year olds.

  26. billshistorian says:
    March 27, 2023 at 8:56 pm
    Yankees moved on from Joe Torre, Pats can move on from Belichick if they need.

    I have wonderful memories of Joe Torre as a Cardinals player in the late 60s-early 70s and later as the Cardinals manager. However, Torre’s time with the Yankees does not compare with Belichick’s with the Patriots. Six championships is simply superior.

  27. This is getting old. Come on guys. If I hear Belichick without Brady one more time I am going to puke. I mean, they lasted 20 years together. Brady didn’t even last that long with the worlds top super model. I think that alone says something about Belichick’s coaching abilities. And if you actually watched the games, there have been countless times where you have to point directly at Belichick for winning. And, despite a few bad draft picks over the years, the guy has done a pretty damn good job at GM too. I mean, look at what some of these other teams are paying for players and it almost never works out. What did Clevland give up for Watson again? We’ll see.

    It normally takes a minimum of 3-4 years to “rebuild” a franchise and that all depends on if you have the right QB. That’s the biggest question, do we have the right QB? I think it’s obvious that Belichick doesn’t really think so (and I agree). And if your the coach/gm with more wins and championships than any other active coach or gm, then maybe you should get an extra 2 or 3 years to find the right QB and put it all together.

    Blood thirsty savages. Gesh!

  28. If you fire Bill you must really believe Mac Jones is great but held back by coaching. Because the Patriots would have made the playoffs even with an average QB play last year.

  29. Pats fans are still stuck on the first of the five stages of grief….denial. Don’t believe it? Just wait for the responses to this post.

  30. Imagine a world where you win as many titles as Bill won and discussing his replacement now. The dude is safe, and frankly should be in control of his own destiny.

  31. It goes to show the “Patriot Way” was a bunch of bull and being an ass to everyone isn’t what won those championships.

  32. 79-87 without Brady as QB. That’s basically 10 seasons of sub .500 football. Great coach no doubt on the defensive side but that’s a lot of football to be under .500 absent one guy.

  33. mrv072 says:
    March 27, 2023 at 8:43 pm
    It’s not 30 more wins. It’s 19 more wins and Belichick passes Shula.
    Please explain. Don has 328 regular season wins. Bill has 298. This includes last season wins. The math is not mathin.

  34. It would be good to pass Shula. But we’d miss Shula complaining about the “seasons having more games, now” or pointing out, “Yeah, but we had a perfect season.” He never seemed to handle the threat on his perfect season very well.

  35. BB is nowhere near a hot seat!! That is the most ridiculous thing anyone has even said. When a HC has won as many SB as he has there is no chance he gets fired.

  36. We will find out the answer to this question this season. There is no chance of the Pats getting in the playoffs from the AFC East this year. Certain to finish bottom !.

  37. No way in hell he lets the Hoodie go! Zero chance of that happening. BB will leave when its time on his terms.

  38. Bill is safe for a minimum of 2 more years…probably 3
    Kraft will have Mayo working extremely close with Bill over that time learning all the little behind the scenes ins & outs of the head coach position, expanding his knowledge on what it takes to be the man responsible for everything, HOWEVER, the GM position responsibilities may no longer be the head coaches responsibility to help expedite that learning curve…. My guess is Johnathan Kraft will be running the team at that point & want to separate those responsibilities like most other teams do

  39. The only head coach with more job security than Belichick is Mike Tomlin. Sigh.

  40. If they can move on from Brady. They will move on from Bill. With that said we will see

  41. mrv072 says:
    March 27, 2023 at 8:43 pm
    It’s not 30 more wins. It’s 19 more wins and Belichick passes Shula.

    30 regular season and/or 19 total wins.

  42. Like 97% percent of all coaches, that coach is only as good as his one star player (actual game changer) and their ability to add enough talent and get them to play at their max around that one talented player to win. Pats simply don’t have that one talented player (as most of the league has this same problem) on their current roster. Bill simply is not good enough to overcome that missing piece. Really Bill’s career is all LT and Tommy.

  43. Bill is safe for a minimum of 2 more years…probably 3


    Haven’t you read what Mr Kraft said?

    He will be let go if pats fail to make playoff.

  44. Belichick had the brains to go with Brady (a 6th round draft pick) over a reasonably successful Bledsoe (1st pick/ rd 1)
    That takes some balls!

  45. Brady couldn’t have won all those Super Bowls without Belichick


    Brady did win a SB without BB. But BB has never even won a postseason game with the Patriots without Tom Brady

  46. mrv072 says:
    March 27, 2023 at 8:43 pm
    It’s not 30 more wins. It’s 19 more wins and Belichick passes Shula.

    Talking about regular season wins: Shula = 328, Belichick = 298. I understand that BB’s additional playoffs wins narrows the gap somewhat but virtually all records we talk about day in and day out are regular season. Most rushing yards career, most rushing yards season, most rushing TDs, most passing yards season, most passing yards career, most receptions, most sacks, most interceptions, etc.

  47. The Matt Patricia experiment was eye-opening, for sure. A simply bizarre idea allowed to continue for an entire season. BB even said it wasn’t possible to change anything midseason like he’d never seen countless other teams change playcaller midyear, etc. At least they now seem to have coaches with actual experience in what they’ll be doing. But that’s the sort of move that speaks to a culture where nobody could/would say the obvious.

  48. “We’re about winning, and doing whatever we can to win.” We all know. Even if that means lie, cheat and steal your way to Super Bowl victories. Your organization is the WWE of the NFL. Fake it to make it.

  49. The Patriots are 25-25 over the last three seasons and one playoff loss. During that time, they purged the salary cap situation they created by going all in the last few seasons with Brady. Brady’s unexpectedly long career caused them to have to trade their transition QB, Jimmy Garapollo. Brady’s decision to leave them before they could develop another transition option put them in a position to have to grab a QB off the scrap heap for a season, then use a mid first round pick on a QB to develop. That went OK the first season, where they won 10 games with a rookie QB. Then, their OC left and they didn’t have a good replacement plan for that. Perhaps BB thought nobody would ever offer McDaniels a head coaching job again after Denver and the Colts Affair. If so, he was wrong and got caught with his pants down. He then tried to make it work for a season with his trusted Lieutenants until he could get O’Brien from Alabama, and that backfired. He has O’Brien now so that should be an improved situation. To suggest he be fired for this after the greatest and longest run of success in sports history is a sign of mental illness. If they were 15-40 with no hope going forward, it might be different. The last three years are not up to the standard we are accustomed to and spoiled by, but it’s not the kind of submarine job most teams and failed coaches dish up. Were it not for a pair of special teams breakdowns, they might have won that last game in Buffalo in January and made the playoffs again. Given how they handicapped themselves, having a shot at the playoffs on the last Sunday is nothing to be ashamed of. Most teams in this situation don’t sniff the playoffs. They aren’t .500. They are .250. I do worry that the level of success Bill has had, combined with his age, has led to him being perhaps (but not necessarily) out of touch with young up and coming coaching talent, and more comfortable running it back with the old crew. That’s not a bad thing, as it has led to a lot of success, but at some point, everyone ages out or goes out to climb a different mountain. Things appear to be falling into place for them now, however, it’s now a time where the bulk of the competition is in the AFC, with most of the top QB’s in the AFC. The AFC East is now stacked. It’s a lot harder to win in the AFC now, and they still have the least physically talented or experienced/accomplished QB in the division. It’s going to be an uphill climb, but it’s not wise to assume that because the Patriots have had issues, you should sleep on a Bill Belichick squad coming into your house. That’s always a mistake. They have always had a chance with Bill. I doubt it will all come together in this one season, but they should be very improved. They lost 3-4 games they could have won last season were it not for the disaster on offense, which made the whole ship list to port. O’Brien will fix this. I still expect double digit wins, but more so, I expect them to refine and mature as the season goes on, head into the playoffs on a win streak (unlike the last few seasons), and have a legit shot at making some noise. That is my expectation for this season, with them at least competing for a Championship in 2-3 seasons. There are countless franchises that don’t have this expectation. The Doomer outlook you paint of the Patriots and Belichick is likely based in your distaste for how he handles the media.

  50. There’s no point in moving on from BB. If he leaves he will just go elsewhere and try to break Shula’s record and probably will win some games because he will go to a team that has all the parts in place.

    Let it play out, good or bad, and then move on with Bill part of the long-term Patriots organization.

    Jonathan will need him at some point.

    You aren’t winning squat with a new coach for a few years anyway, and that’s if they work out.

  51. pkrlvr says:
    March 27, 2023 at 9:33 pm
    The Patriots team won those Superbowls, not BB or Brady.

    Fixed it for you.

  52. I doubt it will all come together in this one season, but they should be very improved.

    Weird to think of the possibility that the Patriots finish 4th this season with the best roster they’ve had since 2019 or even 2018.

  53. I don’t think anybody outside of MIA really cares about Shula or his longevity-based record.

  54. be careful for what you wish for. There are worse records than 8-8. Ask the team that fired the coach that beat BB twice in the super bowl.

  55. Okay suppose BB gets fired. Then what? Does Kraft become another Jerry Jones? Does he think there are 500 coaches out there who can win a Super Bowl with his team? How many losing seasons would the next coach get before he gets canned? Any other team in the NFL with a six time SB winning coach would let him coach as long as he wanted.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.