Patriots Players Gave Bill Belichick Brutal Report Card - Sport News

Patriots Players Gave Bill Belichick Brutal Report Card

Bill Belichick didn’t exactly endear himself to players during his final season as head coach of the New England Patriots. Belichick received some brutal grades, including a B-, 27th among head coaches, according to the NFLPA report card.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick still loves what he does

Worse followed, with the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed noting how “Only 55% of players feel that former head coach Bill Belichick was efficient with their time (31st overall).” Meanwhile, “The players feel that Bill Belichick was rarely willing to listen to the locker room (31st overall).”

Although the franchise as a whole scored terribly, ranking next-to-last in the league for two key categories involving coach and player interaction is an indictment of the end of the Belichick era.

The lowly grades were revealed on a day when Belichick’s successor Jerod Mayo and Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf talked up changing the philosophy Belichick adopted for nearly a quarter of a century.

Report Card Shows Disconnect Between Belichick and Players

Any coach who has been in the job 20-plus years will inevitably find their methods accused of going stale. Belichick wasn’t immune, even after nine Super Bowl appearances and six Lombardi Trophies.

It appears players shared what became a common belief during the 2023 season that Belichick’s approach was no longer suited to the modern NFL. That sentiment had been growing, particularly during the decline of the Patriots’ offense once Tom Brady left town in 2020.

The nadir occurred when Belichick let former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and ex-Special Teams coach Joe Judge call the offense in 2022. It wrecked quarterback Mac Jones, who had been a Pro Bowler as a rookie a year earlier.

Even some of Belichick’s former players grew tired of his conservative strategies on gameday. Ted Johnson, who played middle linebacker for Belichick when the Patriots won the 2002 Super Bowl, skewered his ex-coach for taking “the power away from the players” with play calling that was “so conservative,” during a defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, per NBCS Boston’s Patriots Coverage.

Playing the percentages and maximizing the chances of avoiding defeat was a hallmark of Belichick’s tenure. It’s one of the things Mayo and Wolf will try to move away from.

Jerod Mayo Changing Bill Belichick Philosophy

Mayo has been keen to publicly defend Belichick, amid an obvious move away from the latter’s way of doing things. As Mayo told reporters, per Kyed’s colleague Andrew Callahan, “Bill (Belichick) did a great job for a long period of time. I don’t want you guys to take this, just because we’re changing, as shots toward the previous regime. In saying that, we will do it differently, and it’ll feel different.”

While Mayo is covering all the bases with his public messaging, Wolf has been more explicit about what the Patriots want to do differently now Belichick is no longer in charge.

The main differences will involve a shift away from how the Patriots grade players. Specifically, “Wolf says the #Patriots have changed their grading system. It’ll be less role specific like the old system and more value based,” per Evan Lazar of

Belichick looked for players who fit individual roles so the Patriots could be scheme-fluid on both sides of the ball week to week. It worked when his offenses and defenses were also headlined by elite talent, but the Pats missed some game-changing playmakers when they focused so much on style-specific prospects.

The new regime will place less emphasis on experience and veteran players, in favor of a youth movement. As Wolf put it, “there’s just going to be a little bit more reliance on playing young players. I think it’s really important in today’s football to be able to play young players and develop from within,” per Kyed.

Both of those things seem relevant and timely ahead of the annual NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and this year’s draft. They are also fashionable for every rebuilding team to promote.

Mayo and Wolf’s approach might seem like a breath of fresh air after years of Belichick’s way. Yet, the new messages will ring hollow without at least some of the success Belichick achieved.

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