Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots mutually parting ways in January was not a huge shock. Belichick may be the greatest football coach ever, but his departure came after months of reports indicating he and the team he led to six Super Bowls would split after a bumpy few seasons.
What was shocking is that Belichick saw very limited interest from the seven other NFL teams with head coaching vacancies and only seriously interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons, who eventually passed him up to bring back their former interim head coach, Raheem Morris.
Even the Washington Commanders, after reportedly missing out on their top two targets in Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson (who stayed in Detroit) and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald (who took the Seattle Seahawks head coach job), only showed limited interest in Belichick. This despite essentially having a clean slate and being situated near the 72-year-old’s hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. The Commanders eventually hired Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on Feb. 1.
A report from The Athletic, however, shed light on the perspectives of the teams that passed on Belichick, pointing out how the coach refused to give up complete control over personnel while in New England and questioning whether he would consider doing so with a new team.
Belichick enjoyed a large amount of power as both head coach and general manager from the moment Patriots owner Robert Kraft hired him in 2000, and his unwillingness to relinquish some of that control even as New England endured losing records in three of the past four seasons concerned potential future employers, according to the report.
That power structure is an increasingly rare model in the NFL and would likely have required some adjustments from any team hiring Belichick. That reportedly made hiring the second-winningest coach in NFL history a bit harder to stomach.
Per the report: “Sources with multiple teams that just hired new head coaches expressed varying degrees of relief Belichick wasn’t joining their team. Some were concerned Belichick would overhaul the leadership structure and the order of command.”
The report also claims that rumors are swirling across the NFL that Belichick had overruled Patriots scouts on several key draft picks in recent seasons, which have not yielded many talented homegrown players in New England.
“The fear, especially with scouts who spend so much time on the road away from their families, is they’d be wasting their time [under Belichick],” the report stated.
What to make of Belichick not being hired?
Additionally, teams were also perplexed by Belichick’s mishandling of the quarterback position over the last few years — first letting Tom Brady walk in 2020, only to see Brady join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and immediately win his seventh Super Bowl, then botching the development of 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones.
Jones regressed after a promising rookie season, struggling under offensive coordinators Matt Patricia and Bill O’Brien, both former Patriots assistants and NFL head coaches, as Belichick refused to depart from familiar faces — even if they, like Patricia before his 2022 return to New England, had virtually no experience on the offensive side of the ball.
New England now could take another quarterback in this upcoming draft with the No. 3 overall pick in what will mark former Belichick player and assistant Jerod Mayo’s first draft selection as Patriots head coach. Belichick, meanwhile, will likely need to bide his time for at least one more season before returning to an NFL sideline.
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