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It’s Time for Belichick to Step Aside

The cracks have started to form in the foundation that is the base of the Patriots dynasty.  Bill Belichick, the man who inspired the famous quote “In Bill We Trust”, is coming under question due to recent decisions made both by both him and the Patriots organization.  

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Patriots fans are beginning to question the future Hall of Fame Coach’s decisions, intentions and integrity.  The cracks have started, and unless repaired quickly, the entire organization will come down.  After much consideration, the solution becomes painfully clear.  It is time for Bill Belichick to step aside as the Head Coach of the New England Patriots.

While it was difficult to write the previous sentence, the Patriots cannot move forward from last season’s Super Bowl loss and expect to continue their level of success with the coaching dynamic currently in place.  The recent decision by Josh McDaniels to turn down the Head Coach position with the Indianapolis Colts cemented not only his career path, but the apparent future of the Patriots.  Whether the Patriots sweetened the pot or not for McDaniels with a promise to be Belichick’s successor, McDaniels return sets him up as the de facto “Head Coach in Waiting”.

Reports out of Foxborough contend a rift has already developed between Belichick, Tom Brady and owner Bob Kraft over the Jimmy Garoppolo situation.  Brady allegedly forced the Garoppolo trade to San Francisco at the trade deadline, supported by Kraft, over the objections of Belichick.  The last minute change of heart by McDaniels to remain with the Patriots is furthered believed to have been orchestrated by Brady, who has long cited his close relationship with McDaniels.  If these rumors are true and Kraft has decided to side with his aging superstar quarterback over Belichick, then the balance of power has shifted in the locker room, and Belichick has lost his power.

Further evidence of this rift came after the Super Bowl loss with player reaction to the unexpected benching of Malcolm Butler.  Both Brady and Safety Devin McCourty commented publicly in support of Butler.  In the past, Patriot players would have either declined to comment or would have said it was the coach’s decision.  Speaking in support of Butler, even as apparently harmless as the comments may have seemed, spoke loudly that certain players were no longer afraid to go against Belichick.

McDaniels’ apparent position as the future head coach bestows lame duck status on Belichick.  Nothing is worse for a leader than being perceived as a lame duck.  If the star players have lost their faith in Belichick and have aligned themselves with McDaniels, then it is only a matter of time before this divisiveness rips through the locker room. 

If Kraft has decided to go forward with Brady/McDaniels, then that future is now.  Belichick should step aside and allow Brady to play out his remaining years with his preferred coach, and allow that coach to draft and develop his own quarterback of the future.  Preferably Belichick remains in a front office position and maintains ties with the organization in which he played a large part in its rise to greatness and unprecedented run off success.  But he can no longer remain on the sidelines.

Belichick’s best days with the Patriots are clearly behind him.  He should step aside gracefully now and preserve his legacy.  Anything less would be an inglorious end to a brilliant career.

Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_BSoT. 

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