The New England Patriots hit a new low Sunday with a 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The 35-point defeat was the worst of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's career. The Patriots were outplayed and outcoached in a way we've very rarely seen since Belichick joined the team before the 2000 season.
Sunday's huge loss wasn't much of an outlier, either. The Patriots have won just three of their last 11 games dating back to last season. They own a lackluster 26-28 record with one playoff appearance since Tom Brady left following the 2019 campaign.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
More Patriots coverage
In three years, Belichick has been unable to keep the Patriots among the top teams in the AFC. Given the high level of competition in the AFC East this season, it wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots finished last in the division for the first time since 2000.
How would a last-place finish in the division and no playoff football in January impact Belichick's future with the franchise?
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio gave an interesting take on the situation Monday.
"I said it before the season," he said. "I noticed it when Bob Kraft, the owner of the team, talked about it in Arizona, when he was asked -- and I need to dust these quotes off so people will maybe pay attention to it now -- will Bill Belichick essentially be allowed to stay until he beats Don Shula's all-time wins record? And it wasn't a 'yes' given by the owner of the team. The answer, to me, made it clear -- if things don't improve, there's going to be a change."
Florio later added: "There's still a long way to go. But if they finish last in that division, don't turn things around and don't make it to the playoffs, there's going to be a mutual parting, I believe, between the Patriots and Bill Belichick when the season is over."
Check out the full segment with Florio and Chris Simms in the video below.
Shula's wins record stands at 347 (including the playoffs). Belichick is in second place with 330 career victories, including a record 31 playoff wins. Shula has 328 career regular-season wins. Belichick is third in regular-season victories with 299.
Belichick might need two, three or even four seasons (including this year) to break Shula's records. Given how poorly the Patriots have played for the majority of the last three-plus seasons, it's fair to wonder if Belichick will get the chance to break Shula's record in New England. And that's assuming he's fully intent on breaking the wins record. Maybe it's not as important to him as we think.
Either way, the Patriots need to show dramatic improvement or ownership might be forced to at least consider the possibility of major changes to the organization next offseason.