Over the past 15 years, no team in the NFL has experienced more success than the New England Patriots under the reign of Bill Belichick. Alleged cheating scandals aside, Bill Belichick is undisputedly on the Mount Rushmore of head coaches; however, most people in New England believe “The Hoodie” is infallible, and that is simply not the case. Obviously, there is a reason so many Patriots supporters habitually echo the mantra, “In Bill We Trust”, for the coach’s track record is second-to-none. Furthermore, while Patriots fans remember the great moves like bringing in Randy Moss, Corey Dillon, Wes Welker, and many others, they should also recognize some of the mistakes “Bill Belichick The GM” has made. So here are five mistakes made by the best head coach in NFL history:
Prior to the 2011 season, the Patriots wanted to bolster an already loaded roster off the heals of a surprising AFC Divisional loss to the rival Jets. In the 2010 season, the Patriots parted ways with their long-time deep threat receiver Randy Moss. The following offseason, the team brought in the former Bengal Chad Ochocinco (Formerly and now known as Chad Johnson) to try to fill the void as a veteran presence with the ability to stretch the field. Unfortunately, the experiment did not pan out, and the Patriots did not get a good return on their $6.35 million investment, as the wideout did not come close to matching past production.
In addition to bringing in Ochocinco in the 2011 offseason, Belichick also traded for disgruntled former Defensive Player of the Year Albert Haynesworth. After not living up to expectations as a Washington Redskin, the defensive tackle came to New England in search of redemption. However, off-the-field scuffles with coach Pepper Johnson and an overall lack of production ended Haynesworth tenure with the Patriots before it really began.
After allowing Pro-Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel walk during the 2008 offseason, Bill Belichick struggled immensely trying to find a cheap replacement to step up as the team’s top cornerback. One of Belichick’s solutions was veteran Shawn Springs of the Washington Redskins. Springs (age 34) was a stretch to be a starter, never mind a primary corner, even with the solid career he had up to that point. Although Springs was signed to a three year pact, he was cut after his first season in Foxborough.
Bodden joined Shaun Springs in 2009 offseason to form a new-look defensive backfield after being released by the Detroit Lions after their 0-16 debacle. Unlike Springs, Bodden had very productive first year with the Patriots, leading the team with five interceptions; however, the true mistake was the contract that followed. Bill Belichick is known for not over-extending himself to keep a player, no matter how pivotal. But after seeing how much the defense suffered without a competent cornerback, Belichick broke his own rule by dishing out a four year $22 million deal to Bodden. Of course, the defensive back ended up being fool’s gold and was released in 2011 following a career-ending concussion.
In the 2007 offseason, the Patriots went all out by acquiring veteran talents Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, and Adalius Thomas. Fortunately, three of the four newcomers exceeded expectations, but the $35 million man Thomas did not perform as he did with the Baltimore Ravens. Some point to the fact that Thomas was playing with Hall of Fame players on defense with the Ravens, and that the Patriots, while talented, did not have the same type of firepower. A somewhat productive first season in New England was followed by wildly underwhelming ones, and Thomas was released in 2010.
The picture above features another mistake made by Belichick when he boldly decided to wear an unprecedented red hoodie in Super Bowl 42.
by Joe Spinosa
Joe Spinosa is a co-host for the Game Time Decision Podcast and can be contacted through his twitter @Spinnytheginny