How to explain the New England Patriots' worst season since 2000? Head coach Bill Belichick has taken an uncharacteristic approach, insisting that a 7-9 season is what you get when you "sell out" to be a championship contender for so many years.
Belichick doubled down on that narrative Monday.
"Honestly, I don’t know how we could be any more aggressive than we were for the last five years ... six years, really," Belichick told reporters in a video conference. "And so there’s a residual to that."
What exactly did Belichick mean by what sounds like excuse-making from the coaching legend? Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who won three Super Bowls with Belichick in 2001, 2003 and 2004, joined WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" to share his thoughts.
New England Patriots
"Here’s what he meant by that: if you have to bite the bullet for a year to play for three championships everyone in the NFL would sign up for that right now. Every single team would sign up for that," Weis said, via WEEI.com.
"This year was a tough year. ... I’m sure (if) you ask any coach in the league, ‘In your sixth year you’re going to have a bad year, but you’re going to play for a championship three times in the five years before that.’ Do you think there’s anyone who would say no to that?"
The Patriots indeed made four Super Bowls in a five-year span from 2014 to 2018, winning three. So, Belichick obviously deserves a little leeway.
But as our Tom E. Curran wrote Monday, Belichick's explanation doesn't account for the fact that Tom Brady was crucial to New England's success, both by taking discounts to help the team maintain financial flexibility and by raising the talent level around him. Belichick's comments also don't address his woeful track record in the NFL Draft, which is largely to blame for the state of the current roster.
Still, Weis doesn't believe Belichick is taking the easy way out with his comments.
"Look, Bill’s not a big excuse maker," Weis said. "Bill just says what the facts are and you can take it and run with it any way you want to. If you want to look at it as he’s making an excuse, that’s OK. ... But the bottom line is that’s not his M.O. That’s not what he’s trying to do."
The Patriots enter 2021 with nearly $60 million in cap space (fourth-most in the NFL), so Belichick can't claim he's cash-strapped this time around.