With the New England Patriots mired in one of their worst seasons under Bill Belichick, it might be time to wonder whether the legendary head coach is approaching the twilight of his tenure.
NBC Sports' Peter King wrote in his weekly column he has "started to wonder" about Belichick's future in New England.
King highlighted the growing gulf between the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills—the Bills earned a 24-10 victory last Thursday—in the AFC East and referenced a stagnancy that appears to be settling in for the NFL's once preeminent franchise:
"I think Robert Kraft, who is 81 and will enter his 30th year of Patriots ownership in 2023, is not in this to rebuild deliberately. He has to be looking at the dung-show on the Patriots’ offensive staff and wondering why Belichick left the offense so wanting this year. Anyway, I can’t see anything weird happening this year. But I have my antennae up about the Patriots for 2023."
King isn't the first to speculate ownership might begin to scrutinize Belichick more closely. In September, The MMQB's Albert Breer said a reckoning could come in 2024.
Breer explained the Patriots would be four years removed from Tom Brady's departure, thus providing a fair amount of time to assess their direction under Belichick.
Because New England is projected to have the fourth-largest salary cap space ($49.4 million) in 2023, Breer said the team can have an immediate turnaround next season as well with the right additions.
To some extent, you'd expect Belichick to be untouchable. He has guided the Patriots to six Super Bowl wins and is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.
But if Kraft was willing to let Tom Brady walk when it looked like the future Hall of Famer was starting to decline, then it stands to reason he'd use the same pragmatic approach with the coaching staff.