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Bill Belichick's Failure as GM Leaves Patriots with Uncertain Future

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2014

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick turns to walk away from the podium at the conclusion of a media availability at the NFL football team's facility Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Stephsan Savoia/Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bill Belichick the head coach must hate Bill Belichick the general manager.

At times, the opposite holds true as well.

The New England Patriots head coach has been autonomous on personnel decisions for most of the past decade, and it may finally be catching up to him.

His errors came up time after time on Monday night in the Patriots' 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The offensive line couldn't pass protect. The wide receivers couldn't get open. The running backs couldn't create yards. The talented defense that he built was gashed time after time.

Unless the Patriots start figuring out some of their issues, and fast, Murphy's Law may become Belichick's Law—everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. That was certainly the case at Arrowhead Stadium, and it could be the case yet again this season unless Belichick gets back to the drawing board and finds out how to fix what's wrong with his team.

Unless the Patriots find a way to take a mulligan on the past few offseasons, they'll have a hard time in that respect.

Offensive Line

Some folks—including yours truly—tried to justify the Patriots' trade of left guard Logan Mankins. Not anymore.

Mankins has been injured over the past couple of seasons, playing through a torn ACL in 2011 and missing six more games in 2012. His time in Tampa Bay has been short, and also injury-riddled, but the Patriots' mess on the inside of the line has been well documented. 

To say tight end Tim Wright has been a non-factor since joining the Patriots may be giving him too much credit. Headed into the game, Wright had four receptions on five targets for 35 yards. Those are still his numbers following Monday night.

The offensive line has been in shambles to start the season, and the group was a turnstile once again—in more ways than one. Not only did the Chiefs' aggressive front seven get penetration and hold the Patriots to only 75 yards on the ground, but it also logged three sacks of Patriots quarterbacks. 

Pete Prisco @PriscoCBS

The juggling of the offensive line from series to series is high-school like for the Patriots. Settle on five.

The rotating offensive line has been a point of contention all season so far, but realistically, it wouldn't be an issue if the Patriots had five offensive linemen talented enough to put to bed any doubt that they are the right men for the job.

Wide Receivers

The Patriots have had plenty of opportunities to fortify their offensive skill position talent over the past few years, and they have missed the boat at each turn.

Last season, when faced with the choice of re-signing slot receiver Wes Welker, the team chose to let their productive pass-catcher leave the fold and signed Danny Amendola in his stead. As the weeks go on, Amendola seems more likely to appear on the side of a milk carton than on the stat sheet.

Michael Hurley @michaelFhurley

Danny Amendola on the 2014 season, through 4 weeks: 16 receiving yards, 15 penalty yards.

In 2013, the Patriots showed an interest in then-Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders as a restricted free agent. They fell about $500,000 short in their effort to pry him away from Pittsburgh by forcing the Steelers up against the salary cap, but this past season, the Patriots had a chance at redemption when Sanders hit the open market. 

They clearly liked Sanders as a player, but they didn't like the price. Instead, they signed Brandon LaFell—who was a non-factor through the first three games and didn't have any meaningful production while the game was still competitive.

The Patriots had both second-year wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins inactive for the game. Both were healthy scratches. Their presence on the field may not have made the difference between a win and a loss—that is, unless they could also play defense—but their absence shows exactly how dire the Patriots' situation at wide receiver has become.

Defense

"The Defense That Belichick Built" is quickly becoming the defense that any talented offense can abuse up and down the field.

There's plenty of talent on the defensive side, and that's the problem. For years, the Patriots have struggled defensively, but they have lacked enough playmakers on that side of the ball to offer a fair assessment of Belichick's status as a defensive guru. 

With every team that runs roughshod over the Patriots defense, that status comes further into question. 

Patriots defense, 2014
OpponentPointsYards3rd down %Red zone %
Miami Dolphins3336053.8%50%
Minnesota Vikings721736.4%0%
Oakland Raiders924138.5%0%
Kansas City4144358.3%66.7%
Source: NFL.com

They were gashed by the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 but held firm against the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders; after yielding a first-quarter touchdown to the Vikings, they went seven straight quarters without allowing a touchdown on defense. That streak came to a swift and painful end against the Chiefs, as quarterback Alex Smith marched the Chiefs offense 73 yards down the field in 11 plays and 5:58 to score the first touchdown of the game, with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter.

The bloodbath did not stop there, as the Patriots gave up scoring drives of 73, 86, 85, 9, 0, 81, 80 and 39 yards.

In Week 1, the Patriots problem was zone runs. This week, it was weak-side runs. At what point do we stop singling out problems and just accept that there are wholesale problems with the Patriots defense?

That point may come soon, if it hasn't already. 

Between the likes of Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty and Vince Wilfork, Belichick couldn't ask for much more talent on defense than he has assembled. If they continue this substandard play, there won't be anywhere else to place the blame than on the coach.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained via team news release and all stats obtained via Pro-Football-Reference.com.

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