It’s decision time for Robert Kraft. Will it be loyalty or results that determines Bill Belichick’s fate?

Patriots

Bill Belichick’s resume is unparalleled. But is it more important than his recent track record?

Bill Belichick. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

COMMENTARY

FOXBOROUGH — The season is over, and the stage has been set. Robert Kraft has a franchise-altering decision to make.

He has to decide if Bill Belichick will return as Patriots head coach next year.

Belichick confirmed to reporters Sunday that he will have a meeting with Kraft now that the season is finished. ESPN reported that meeting will be Monday, and could prove pivotal in deciding Belichick’s fate.

Which factor will weigh heavier on Kraft’s mind while he ponders Belichick’s future? Loyalty based on past achievements, or Belichick’s track record over the last four seasons?


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Because if we’re talking purely about results, it’s hard to envision Belichick returning. Only Carolina [2-15] finished with a worse record than New England, which tied with Washington and Arizona [4-13] at the bottom of the standings.

New England tied Carolina for the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL at 13.9 points per game. The Patriots’ roster, which Belichick is responsible for, has shown repeatedly that it does not have the talent on that side of the ball to compete.

Belichick has had four seasons to show that he can win without Tom Brady. He has a losing record, one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins since Brady left. He had a losing record as a head coach before Brady as well.

The Patriots’ on-field product hasn’t been good enough for a while now, and Belichick knows it. He said the disappointment hasn’t taken any of the wind out of his sails, but it is disappointment nonetheless.

“No, I mean, I enjoy coaching. Like I said, it’s a disappointing season,” Belichick said after Sunday’s loss to the Jets. “I don’t have anything to add. That’s how I feel. But no, I still — I like coaching the team. I like preparing the team, game planning, coaching on Sundays. But the results weren’t good and none of us are happy with those.”

The main thing that can save Belichick’s job right now is his resume. He is a six-time Super Bowl championship coach who built arguably the greatest dynasty to ever grace the NFL with its presence. He has won more Super Bowls than any coach and is 14 wins shy of the record for most wins among NFL coaches.

Belichick produced a twenty-year stretch of undeniable greatness for the Patriots. But, the good times are mostly in the rearview mirror. It’s been almost five years since there’s been any sort of notable achievement from his team, and the clock is ticking. They have been obstructed by dysfunction, poor roster building, and mismanagement of the quarterback position.

The Patriots have quite a turnaround to make after this year’s debacle if they plan on returning to contention any time soon. Is Belichick the right person to lead the turnaround? Depends on how much stock you put in the past and how much you put in what is going on right now.

It will be interesting to see where Robert Kraft lands on this. Here are a few final thoughts as we wrap up the season.

Slater said there’s ‘no quit’ in Belichick

Special teams captain Matthew Slater said he learned a lot about Belichick from the way the coach handled himself during the most difficult season of his Patriots career.

“I saw no quit in Bill Belichick this season,” Slater said. “You know, as a team, we’re a reflection of our coach in that we competed all the way to the end. Regardless of the scoreboard, regardless of our record, regardless of what was going on around us, we kept fighting.

“I think a lot of that can be attributed to the man who’s steering the ship. So for us, we see him come in here every day,” Slater added. “f you had sat in these team meetings this week, you would’ve thought we’re getting ready to go play in the AFC Championship game. That’s how he’s coaching the team. He didn’t turn it down, he didn’t shut it down, and I have so much respect for him, especially in a year like this.”

Mac Jones demoted even further

Mac Jones, the former first-round pick who started the first 11 games of the season for New England at quarterback, was demoted to third string on Sunday.

Belichick was asked if Nathan Rourke, who signed with the team last month and has never played in an NFL game, did enough in practice to beat out Jones for the backup spot.

“Nathan had a good week of practice,” Belichick said. “You know, we activated him for the second spot.”

David Andrews feels he can still play

David Andrews just concluded his eighth season with the Patriots. He played in all 17 games this season.

The 31-year-old offensive lineman was asked about his plans for the future after the game.

“I think I’ve still got something left in the tank, but we’ll see,” Andrews said. “I’m tired, sore, and it’s been a long year. I’m going to go home, go back to Georgia. I’m going to sit on my tractor with my son and take him deer hunting and then go back to work. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

Streak is snapped

Sunday’s loss marked the first time that the Jets have beaten the Patriots since 2015.

New England had won 15 games against New York in a row before the streak was snapped. The Patriots beat the Jets earlier this season at MetLife Stadium.

“It means a lot to this organization,” Jets defensive lineman Solomon Thomas said. “It means a lot to the owners here and the fans here. So to get that streak done, it means a lot to the people and this community and this team of where it started. We’re all happy to get that done.”