For twenty years, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick refused to make excuses. He didn’t tolerate mistakes, both teams always played hard, and then it’s “on to Cincinnati.” That’s what made it so shocking that after the Patriots’ 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Belichick sounded like an average NFL coach, making excuses to prop up his team. The comments were so out of character for the future Hall of Fame coach that even his former player, Ted Johnson, called Belichick out for them.
Bill Belichick made excuses for the Patriots Week 1 loss
After years of dominating the AFC East, the Buffalo Bills seem to have overtaken the New England Patriots as the class of the division. After the Miami Dolphins 20-7 victory, it looks like the Pats may be third-best or even neck-and-neck with the New York Jets at the bottom of the division.
While Bill Belichick and Tom Brady dominated the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets, the head coach and quarterback never talked about luck, bad breaks, or being this close to getting a better outcome.
That was the Patriot Way.
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots worked harder and schemed smarter than every other team in the league. They didn’t need breaks. They made their own through hard work and discipline.
That wasn’t what Belichick talked about after the 2022 Week 1 loss to the Dolphins, though. Addressing the media after the game, Belichick said, “Well, it’s obviously a disappointing start here. It was really a pretty even game. Two big plays, 14 points, really skewed the game.”
The head coach later reiterated the importance of the two big Dolphins plays — a Brandon Jones strip-sack followed by a Melvin Ingram walk into the end zone and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle on 4th-and-7 at the end of the half to make it 17-0 — were the difference in the game.
Making excuses that, if not for two massive plays, the Patriots would have been in the game is not how Belichick usually rolls.
And former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson pointed that out following the game.
Former Patriot Ted Johnson pointed out how out of character his old coach’s comments were
Bill Belichick’s out-of-character comments after the Dolphins loss set off alarm bells in Patriots Nation.
On NBC Sports Boston’s postgame show, Patriots insider Albert Breer and former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson were both incredulous about the comments.
“Listening to Bill after the game, my jaw hit the floor,” Breer said. “It’s jarring to see Bill talk that way because I think it’s the antithesis of who he is as a football coach.”
Johnson added that he couldn’t believe Belichick touted how his offense got onto the Dolphins’ side of the field so often when they only got in the red zone once. Breer agreed, adding a famous Belichick-ism that “yards aren’t important, points are important.”
The three-time Super Bowl champ added, “You’re hearing Bill make excuses or his team in ways you never [have]. That signals to us that he’s not comfortable with this team. That he does not feel confident with this football team. When he builds them up this much, alarms go off in our head.”
Breer summed up by noting that it makes you wonder “if he thinks the team is on the ledge right now.”
If that is the case, Belichick better figure out how to right the ship soon because a storm is coming New England’s way.
New England’s schedule gets tough starting in Week 2
Bill Belichick and the Patriots don’t get any breaks to regroup and figure out how to improve in the next few weeks. The team’s next three games are all against traditional powerhouses, at the Pittsburgh Steelers, home vs. the Baltimore Ravens, and at the Green Bay Packers.
And the Patriots may not have Mac Jones for one or more of these games.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that the second-year signal-caller went to the training room with “back spasms” after the Dolphins loss. The scans “came back normal,” according to Adam Schefter, but Jones will likely be questionable heading into Week 2.
If the Patriots can find a way to improve over the next three games, Weeks 5 through 11 should be easier for the team. However, that means the back end of the schedule is brutal. In the last seven weeks of the season, the Pats face the Dolphins again, the Bills twice, and 2021 playoff teams, the Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cincinnati Bengals.
The time for excuses is over for the Patriots, and no one knows that better than Bill Belichick. The problem is, excuses might be all the 2022 Patriots have.