Firing Bill Belichick is lunacy and anyone who suggests so is stupid and unhinged. That is the consensus take in sports media this week. Even outside Boston. Here is the case for firing Darth Vader. It is not crazy at all.
Benching Malcolm Butler Super Bowl LII
He was the Patriots second best defensive player. He tackles. His teammates know him and depend on him. They haven’t played with anyone else in over 3 years. He has attitude and competes. Makes big plays in big games. He was about to play the Super Bowl in a contract year. The Patriots defense played well in the second half of both the Tennessee and Jacksonville games. Despite revisionist history there was no cry of Malcolm Butler is playing terrible and is hurting the Patriots! Bill Belichick decided to put that proven skill on the bench. On a hunch. Not only do you lose Butler, but the rest of the Defense plays the Super Bowl with a new guy. Not to mention the late notice to all before the start of the game. Giving them a legitimate mental distraction at game time. The Eagles scored at will in all quarters. Never giving Malcolm Butler a chance to change the game. Unless additional information surfaces, I don’t think Malcolm Butler missed curfew or did something outlandish to warrant this. It has been a week since and nothing. No, Bill Belichick just doesn’t like him. For whatever reason. The decision to bench Malcolm Butler was all Bill Belichick trying to prove a point. At the expense of the team and trying to win. If Malcolm Butler is such a bum that doesn’t care and misbehaves why was his first comment after the game, “I could have helped change that game.” This is the biggest coaching blunder I can remember.
Second-Round Pick for Jimmy Garoppolo
The accepted theory is that Belichick traded Garoppolo to San Francisco because he liked him. Wanted him in a good spot. Great guy! That is why the Patriots only received a second-round pick in return. For the guy that ran the table in San Francisco with a terrible team. The guy who just became the highest paid player ever. Since when does Belichick do what players want!? What really happened is Belichick wanted to keep Jimmy G. Even that late in the season near the trading deadline. He wanted Brady gone and hoped time or injury would work it out for him. The natural way… But instead Brady played great and defied the old guy odds. Belichick didn’t mind. He wanted to place the franchise tag on Jimmy G. What is $25 million for a guarantee you don’t have to spend 10 years looking for a Quarterback? Belichick didn’t think of this as overpaying or empty money. I would have franchised him. Belichick right now on February 10th 2018, I guarantee, doesn’t believe Brady will make it through another full NFL season. Kraft told him to trade Garoppolo and it surprised him. But he did what the owner wanted. But instead of getting maximum value he taught Kraft a lesson in grocery meddling. Just as Parcells taught Kraft in the 1990’s. He made one phone call and traded him to the 49ers for nothing. It once again became about someone questioning Bill’s football genius and it was lesson time for Robert Kraft.
Kraft Losing Control
I think Robert Kraft kept Josh McDaniels because he is worried Belichick is going rogue and wants insurance. Pretend you are Kraft and this Malcolm Butler thing happens. Along with getting almost nothing for Jimmy G. Patricia is leaving. If you believe some of what is out there, Kraft was forced to pick Brady over Garoppolo near the trade deadline. Belichick thinks Kraft is crazy for thinking Brady will play multiple additional seasons. To him, that belief is reckless and naive. He left the Jets in a lurch once and is known as unpredictable. He has contempt for the media. He wants all control and no input. Allegedly, Belichick and Kraft have an agreement on when Bill walks away. But what if they don’t? Maybe Belichick treats Kraft with a degree of contempt too. Maybe the owner has no idea what his coach is going to do. I wouldn’t fault Kraft for thinking he has to take control back. Or be at risk.
Bad Drafts and Mediocre Defenses
Where have the shutdown defenses been? Spoiler alert. There have been none. Some very fine bend but don’t break defenses I suppose. But the super genius never assembled and coached a truly great defense. Nothing on the level of the Broncos a couple years ago, or past Ravens teams, or recent Seattle teams. No 85 Bears or 86 Giants as a head coach. His defensive draft picks have not been good. He lets players walk away. He has contempt for players who want to get paid. With his wise ways of accumulating picks, he tends to trade down or away. Players play is the bottom line. But Bill Belichick thinks he makes players and treats the draft as such. He has done well in bottom rounds but terrible in the first and second round. I think I will die before I see a monster Patriots pass rush.
It is Brady Folks
Nobody knows if Belichick would hold the same status without Brady as Quarterback. We do know he is 54-63 without Brady. One playoff appearance with the Browns. He is a great coach. But Brady is better and the main reason for all the success. There will be a 7-9 season immediately with Brady gone.
Robert Kraft can end this successful relationship on his terms, and still with Tom Brady. Otherwise he will be the victim of Belichick leaving everything in chaos as he departs. That is what he wants. That is what he usually does. He wants people saying, “The Patriots collapsed without Bill Belichick.”