There was a time not too long ago when the concept of the New England Patriots firing Bill Belichick was unfathomable. But six weeks into the 2023 NFL season, the thought of the team moving on from its longtime head coach isn't so far-fetched.
The Patriots now have a 1-5 record after dropping Sunday's game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, 21-17. It marked New England's third consecutive defeat, following a 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and a 34-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Belichick's group has looked incompetent on offense and uncharacteristically undisciplined on both sides of the ball. That has led former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi to believe Belichick isn't getting through to his players, and that Belichick is "considering" making his 24th season in Foxboro his last.
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That is, if he isn't fired first.
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Would Patriots owner Robert Kraft actually consider firing Belichick? If so, how would the move be handled? ESPN's Adam Schefter offered some insight on Monday's Pat McAfee Show.
“First of all, I think he’s treated differently, as he should be, than any other coach,” Schefter said. “On a Monday or Sunday night after the season ends, we’ll get three, four, five, six firings of head coaches and I just don’t think you’re going to get one of these statements (after) the last regular-season game where the Patriots are firing Bill Belichick. I just don’t think it works like that when there’s the history and the accomplishments and the résumés and the relationship that there has been between he and Robert Kraft. And so, this situation is treated entirely differently.
“They’re having the type of season that’s going to warrant those types of questions, and everybody’s going to wonder exactly how the situation is going to play out. Because nobody thinks that they can continue just like this with the team reeling in a way that we’re not used to seeing, with the offense struggling in a way we’re not used to seeing, with a team performing in a way we’re not used to seeing. This is so abnormal for a team that has been the best team arguably in all of sports over the last couple of decades.”
Schefter wouldn't elaborate on the probability of the Patriots parting ways with Belichick, but he acknowledged that tough conversations will be had at season's end.
“Bill is 71 years old, and everybody wants to see change, and he has been the guy at the top,” he said. “Look, I just think there are going to be some hard conversations that naturally occur between he and Robert Kraft, and where those go, I don’t know.
"Is Bill going to want out? Are they going to want him out? Are they going to decide mutually to end it together? There are a whole bunch of questions about how it will go on.”
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Belichick has helped lead New England to six Super Bowl titles, but it's been all downhill since legendary quarterback Tom Brady's departure. The Patriots are 26-30 in the post-Brady era and haven't won a playoff game since 2019.
If this season continues on its current trajectory, Kraft will have no choice but to evaluate every level of the operation. That process starts with Belichick, who currently serves as the team's general manager in addition to his head coaching duties.
The schedule only gets more difficult for the Patriots over the next couple of weeks. They will host the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, then visit the red-hot Miami Dolphins in Week 8. If those two AFC East showdowns go as expected, it will mark New England's worst start to a season since 1993.