By HCR Staff | June 29, 2020
Here at HCR, we’re not much for analysis based on trends, narratives, lovers, haters or anything in between. All we want is good, consistent analysis that is as close to objectively clinical as we can get. So when we’re asked about how we feel about Bill Belichick, that’s a red flag inviting us to get into our perception about him as a person.
Here’s our answer: as a person, we don’t care. As a head coach, he’s the best, and the best for one reason only: he’s doing his best to try and field a competitive team every single year. We may not necessarily agree with the particular strategy from year to year, but there is no question that he will be single-minded about being competitive. Plus, how the final product looks and competes matters greatly to him; he’s got his own personal standard to meet. Unfortunately, we can’t say that about all of the NFL’s head coaches.
Going into the 2020 season, and because of the departure of QB Tom Brady, there had been a developing media narrative that this was a rebuilding year for the Patriots. We’ve read a lot of what we would consider to be “paint by the numbers” sports media takes: they’re aging, they lost Brady, coaches and scouts are leaving, the Bills are on the rise, etc.
We’ve never bought into any of it for a second.
Why? Because we believe Belichick is as driven as ever, and not because as some sports media observers have opined, he’s driven to show “he can win without Brady.” Belichick is driven because that’s who he is. Putting a high quality product on the field is important to him. The football field is sacred to him – if he put out a bad product, we think he’d feel he’d be disgracing his father, his coaching mentors, the Naval Academy, his family, and all of his assistants. That’s how important it is to him.
Which brings us to former Carolina QB Cam Newton, and his acquisition by the Patriots over the weekend.
It’s a brilliant stroke, and it definitely puts the Patriots into the Super Bowl conversation – provided Newton is healthy. We also like second year QB Jarrett Stidham, but a healthy Newton gives the Patriots a physical talent and energy that is quite a few notches above Stidham.
Newton’s taken a franchise to the Super Bowl. He’s been a league MVP. If he’s healthy, we think he’s just entering his prime – we don’t buy that at age 31, he’s lost too much juice. Cam Newton has been a winner everywhere he’s been, and his drive to re-establish himself will match Belichick’s competitive hunger.
The Patriots will continue to have a formidable defense, even with the loss of players such as LB Kyle Van Noy. And last we looked, there’s not another team in the AFC East that we’d put into the class of Kansas City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Indianapolis or Houston. What head coach would you rather bet on: Bill Belichick vs Adam Gase, Brian Flores and Sean McDermott? Or, Kyle Shanahan vs Sean McVay, Pete Carroll and Kliff Kingsbury? Shanahan will be a longtime stud, but in the NFC West, he’s got stiffer head coach competition than Belichick, at least in our view.
Belichick has zero risk with the Newton signing as well. No cash or cap risk is present – Newton signed a minimum deal. And there’s no locker room risk – you’ve got a former MVP happy to join a veteran locker room that’s also eager to show what they can do without Tom Brady. The owner also has to be happy as well; without Brady, the Patriots were fairly face-less from a player standpoint, but now, Newton is going to rejuvenate the fan base.
Newton will have to compete with Stidham, so it’s not a lock he’ll play, and as we’ve said, we see upside with Stidham as well. And this is just what Belichick wants – spirited competition at the game’s most important position. Belichick’s locker room cred also will continue to increase as he will have a former league MVP working hard to please him.
The Patriots will be very competitive in 2020. Bill Belichick’s competitive drive will ensure that.