The New England Patriots are 2-5 through their first seven games of the season. Barring a miracle, a team that has made the playoffs in each of the past 11 years and 16 of the last 17 will find itself on the outside looking in this time around.
This week, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did his best to explain why New England was struggling so much in 2020.
“Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million,” Belichick said of his team’s issues.
“I mean it’s obvious we didn’t have any money. It’s nobody’s fault. That’s what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in a AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact.”
So that’s how she motivates Gronk. https://t.co/84SK9ScUhu
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 3, 2020
Various coaches and execs from around the league took notice of those comments and did not respond kindly to them. Reactions ranged from bewilderment to ridicule to dubiousness.
“It seemed very un-Belichickian to say what he said. You are the coach and GM,” one executive told Mike Sando of The Athletic.
“You have made all these decisions unless there is a veiled message, which could make you think about what they’ve spent. … It is not a cap issue. They have been tight against the cap in moving money around, but lots of people have had the ability to do that and go through it.”
LeBron didn’t like what he saw. https://t.co/d7BRplBigT
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 4, 2020
Another executive echoed that sentiment. He believed that the Patriots were in a hole of their own digging.
“Belichick has really run it tight economically whether it’s been players or staff or coaches and I think that has probably finally caught up to them,” he said.
“The cap is an excuse. The cap to me is hiding really that they haven’t spent cash. And it’s not just players. I wonder to some degree whether they’ve had a little bit of a brain drain. Everybody focuses on the coaches who have left not being successful, but (Titans GM) Jon Robinson, (Bucs GM) Jason Licht and all these other guys have left also.”
Don’t try to rob the greatest UFC fighter of all time. It won’t end well. https://t.co/VtBEWH0kq3
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 2, 2020
Some people just straight up aren’t totally buying Belichick’s words. They think the Patriots are simply playing possum this year, and plan to come back strong in 2021.
“Bill is saving up for next year and blowing smoke and hoping people believe him, crying poor, whatever. There is nothing to it,” a coach told The Athletic.
“He knows it. They got stuck when Brady called their bluff and left. They didn’t improve the team and Brady said he’s out, going to go get some sunshine, bring his boy Gronk out (to Tampa Bay), have some drinks with the head coach and have some fun and call it a career.”
This is how you get into the spirit of Halloween. https://t.co/AcyucHrDHS
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 1, 2020
For all intents and purposes, many are regarding the Patriots’ season as already over. And it very well might be. New England’s schedule over the next few weeks features the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins.
How the team ultimately comes out against New York this week will be very telling. If the Patriots demolish them the way everyone else has thus far, then maybe there’s still some life left in this group.
Anything other than total domination, though – and you can close the book on this incarnation of the Patriots once and for all.