What would justify the Patriots firing Bill Belichick mid-season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Would the Patriots consider doing the same with Bill Belichick?
We've already heard rumblings that New England may part ways with its legendary head coach after the season if the team finishes under .500 again. But after an embarrassing home loss to the lowly Washington Commanders on Sunday, is it possible Patriots owner Robert Kraft shows Belichick the door before that point -- perhaps during the team's Week 11 bye following next Sunday's matchup with the Indianapolis Colts in Germany?
NBC Sports Boston's Michael Holley, Tom E. Curran and Ted Johnson weighed in on Patriots Postgame Live and made the case for why an in-season Belichick firing seems unlikely.
"I don't know what you really gain by firing Bill Belichick in-season," Holley said. "... You have his fingerprints and his marks all over the franchise. So you fire him, you still have Jerod Mayo there, you still have Steve Belichick there, you've got his assistant coaches, you've got his people in the front office. What are you really saying if you fire Bill Belichick in the middle of the season?"
To Holley's point, both of Belichick's sons are still on the coaching staff (Brian Belichick is the team's safeties coach), as well as several assistants with close ties to Belichick. Curran also wondered how much an in-season firing of Belichick would really change the direction of a squad that seems devoid of talent.
"You're not going to put the paddles to the chest of the new England Patriots in 2023 and suddenly get this great turnaround that sends you into next season with so much enthusiasm because, 'Ding dong, Bill Belichick is no longer our head coach,'" Curran said.
"You ride it out. You signed up for it ... you gave him a new contract that was also lucrative. That contract is, as sources have told me -- if he doesn't perform, the results will be the results for Bill Belichick, and I think that it's heading that way."
Another obvious factor to consider is the possibility of the Patriots trading Belichick after the season. Belichick is under contract through the 2024 season, per Curran, so if New England can get draft capital in return for him, that's obviously preferable to firing him during the season, which also would leave the iconic coach on sour terms with the Patriots.
"I think he's earned the right to coach the rest of the season," Johnson added. "I think you've got to let it play out, see how it goes and then make the tough decisions at the end of the year. But doing it right now, I don't think that would be wise. Frankly, it would be uncivilized."
As bad as the Patriots have been this season, Belichick still helped bring six Super Bowl titles to Foxboro. That should at least earn him the right to finish the 2023 season and have a somewhat graceful exit in the offseason.