Bill Belichick has long been known as an elite coach with one of the best quarterback-coaching staffs in NFL history. So, where does that leave him now, with his Patriots 3-2 on the season? After losing to the Panthers last week, the Patriots played the Jets at home, and things got interesting.
The New England Patriots are already one of the most dominant teams in the NFL. They’ve won the Super Bowl three times since 2002, finished first or second in the AFC East seven times in that span, and have made the playoffs every year but two.
It’s been a week since Cam Newton was cut by the Carolina Panthers, and while most people had assumed that New England Patriots would be the perfect fit, the Patriots have reportedly had their eyes on Newton for almost a year. The Panthers were reportedly interested in re-signing him over the offseason, but Newton reportedly turned down a two-year deal worth up to $12.4 million a year.
Bill Belichick has a well-documented history of making controversial decisions. From selling proven players like Richard Seymour, Logan Mankins, and Chandler Jones to benching Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl 52 and embarking on an unprecedented free agency spending binge this summer, he has shown no reluctance to do what he thinks is best for the New England Patriots.
Belichick raised eyebrows throughout the NFL on Tuesday when he abruptly ended the Cam Newton experiment. Ironically, it didn’t take him long to make another unexpected move with historic ramifications for a club known for converting discounted players into major contributors.
The NFL world was stunned when New England severed connections with Cam Newton.
For the last several months, Patriots supporters have been wondering whether Mac Jones could persuade Belichick to change his mind on the most important position in sports. The 22-year-old made the notion of starting a rookie quarterback more feasible than anybody could have predicted four months ago by making steady improvement and showing his ability to lead New England’s system.
Despite openly supporting Newton throughout the spring and summer, Belichick’s odd devotion to the former Carolina Panthers star came to a stop on Tuesday.
Jim McBride of the Boston Globe was the first to announce on Twitter that the Patriots have revealed the 2015 NFL MVP. Instead of beginning the season as New England’s starting quarterback, Newton will have to build a new club from the ground up. Given his age, injury history, and underwhelming 2020 season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he has trouble finding a team ready to take a chance on him.
By severing relations with the 32-year-old quarterback, Belichick made it plain that Jones’ time had come. Transitioning from a veteran to a rookie has its challenges, but the Patriots have a solid supporting cast in place, including a top-five offensive line and a deep running back corps led by top breakout candidate Damien Harris.
However, soon after releasing Newton, Belichick made another unexpected decision that will put another first-year player in a position to make a significant impact in his first year in Foxborough.
Bill Belichick makes another surprise decision for the Patriots, this time with historic ramifications.
With kicker Quinn Nordin, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has once again discovered a key contributor from the undrafted free agency ranks. | Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Aside from Newton vs. Jones, the Patriots have another rivalry going on between a talented youngster and a seasoned veteran. Quinn Nordin placed himself in the discussion for a roster berth despite joining the club as an undrafted free agent. In training camp and preseason games, the big-legged kicker from Michigan showed interesting potential, but it seemed like incumbent starter Nick Folk would keep his job.
Belichick, a 36-year-old California native, did not choose that path, unfortunately for him.
“According to a source, the Patriots are likely to keep rookie K Quinn Nordin as their starting, taking over for veteran Nick Folk,” ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted. “After this past NFL Draft, Nordin began searching for employment on LinkedIn and is now in line to assume kicking responsibilities in New England.”
Belichick’s decision to go with a rookie kicker over a known commodity seems to be a dangerous one. The Patriots, on the other hand, need a long-term solution at the position, thus Nordin’s potential may have given him an advantage over Folk.
The Patriots will extend their record of having at least one undrafted free agent make the final 53-man roster to 18 years, with the former Wolverine poised to take over full-time kicking responsibilities. Malcolm Butler, David Andrews, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, and Jakobi Meyers are just a few of the important players Belichick has discovered after the draft during the past two decades. If Nordin can improve his accuracy (he missed a 36-yard field goal and two extra points against the Philadelphia Eagles), he may be the team’s kicker for years to come.
By choosing Jones and Nordin above Newton and Folk, Belichick shows that he is comfortable with the young movement. And it’s for this reason that the Patriots are such an intriguing club to follow this season.
Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, and Lawrence Guy are among the recognizable names on the defense. David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Trent Brown are among the offensive line’s battle-tested veterans. In 2021, though, New England will rely on many young players to come up.
On the defensive side of the ball, Josh Uche and Kyle Dugger, both 2020 second-round choices, could see a significant increase in snaps. Both have exceptional athleticism for their positions, so it’ll be interesting to see whether they can make the most of their physical assets and become impact playmakers. Furthermore, Christian Barmore, a rookie second-round selection, should be able to contribute right away as an inside pass rusher on third downs.
Meanwhile, Jones takes over an offense that needs to get more out of recent early-round picks like Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, N’Keal Harry at wide receiver, and Devin Asiasi at tight end. Fortunately for Brady, he was able to sign proven pass-catchers in free agency, which should make his job simpler.
Despite the fact that Bill Belichick may not be able to enjoy his seventh Super Bowl win in February, don’t be shocked if the Lombardi Trophy returns to Foxborough sooner rather than later.
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