Throughout his illustrious coaching career, Bill Belichick doesn’t lose often. He and the New England Patriots have become the shining example of how a winning franchise should look and operate. That hasn’t been the case in 2020.
After being dominated by the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, Belichick and the Pats will finish this year with a losing record. Having a below .500 record isn’t commonplace in New England. So how many losing seasons has Bill Belichick had with the Patriots since his arrival?
Bill Belichick has proven he is a winner in the NFL
His approach and style might not be appreciated by many, but Bill Belichick has proven that he is one of the best coaches in NFL history. His .672 win percentage is third-highest in league history, only trailing George Halas and Don Shula per Pro Football Reference. In his 26 year career as a head coach, his teams have made the playoffs 18 times.
What has made Belichick successful is his attention to detail and prioritization of his defenses. Many might not remember his days with the New York Giants as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach. Along with Bill Parcells, they put together dominant defensive units, with Lawrence Taylor being the most notable face in those squads. He has taken that defensive mindset to New England, making sure they have a plan for any offense.
Since he has been the Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick has registered 10 or more wins in a season 18 times. That signifies a winning program, as 10 wins usually guarantee you a playoff spot. So Belichick is the leader of a playoff team roughly every year. That is something many coaches can’t say about their coaching careers.
Many of those incredible seasons in New England have been with another legend in Tom Brady. Those two won six championships together, making them one of the best head coach/quarterback duos of all time. However, there is a unique similarity that involves Brady and Bellichick’s last losing season.
When was Bill Belichick’s last losing season in New England?
Going into the Patriots’ final game at 6-9, Belichick will have a losing record this season. This is a rarity for him and the Patriots, as the last time Bill Belichick had a losing season was back in 2000, per Sportingnews. In that year, he finished 5-11, the worst season he has ever had in New England. The common similarity between that season and this recent losing season is that Tom Brady didn’t start a single game.
Tom Brady might be chuckling in Tampa about that piece of information. Brady and Belichick’s dominance has been attributed to Brady’s greatness in the past, which provides more ammo for that argument. Nevertheless, having 19 straight seasons with a winning record is quite the accomplishment for Belichick and the Patriots.
Outside of the 2000 and 2020 seasons, Bill Belichick has never had a losing record in New England. However, he has missed the playoffs with a winning record. One time was in 2002 where they went 9-7. The other occurrence came in 2008, where they finished 11-5. In 2008, Matt Cassell led the way at quarterback because Brady suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 of that season.
Bill Belichick’s plan for the Patriots in 2021
Even though this is an outlier year for Belichick and crew, it doesn’t mean he is happy about it. This losing season is not the Patriot way, and everyone in the organization will be looking to make the necessary changes to get back to their winning ways in 2021. With the Bills and Dolphins on the rise within the AFC, New England must make moves to keep pace.
The first thing on the agenda for Belichick should be deciding who is going to play quarterback next season. Cam Newton has had a lousy year, failing to provide a passing game. The Pats can easily move on from him and look for their future quarterback through multiple avenues. They can assess the free-agent market, trade for a quarterback, or draft one. They should have a decent first-round pick because of their record.
The Patriots should have considerable cap space coming into this offseason. According to Spotrac, they are projected to have roughly $70 million in cap space. That gives them enough money to sign exceptional talent for their needs. Offensive firepower is one of those needs. The Patriots lack offensive weapons, and that was detrimental to Newton’s and the team’s production.
The good news is that eight of the player opt-outs will be back next season. The majority of those players were on defense, which should help that unit immensely. Bill Belichick has a losing season and will be at home for the playoffs. That doesn’t happen often. But the mastermind is planning to come back with a vengeance in 2021.
All Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference