Coach Bill Belichick’s potential final game with the New England Patriots was one for the record books — in a way he won’t want to remember.
The Patriots lost to the Jets 17-3 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, ending New York’s 15-game losing skid to New England. The Patriots recorded 119 yards of offense, marking the fewest of the Belichick era. The team’s previous low was 149 against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 7, 2001.
Rumors abound — as they have for much of the fall — that Belichick and the Patriots may part ways at the end of the season. Answers about the franchise’s future are expected to come following a sit-down with owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft and Belichick shortly after Sunday’s game.
Asked about his future postgame, Belichick said he’d only talk about Sunday’s contest.
“Disappointed in the way the game finished,” Belichick said when asked whether he thinks he’ll be back with the Patriots. Belichick added that he “still enjoys coaching.”
The team’s struggling offense traded off between quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe this fall before settling on Zappe as the starter in late November. He went 12-of-30 with 88 yards, no touchdowns and two fourth-quarter interceptions against a Jets team that’s had a dramatic season of quarterback issues.
With Sunday’s loss, the Patriots finished the season at 4-13 and are last in the AFC East for the first time since 2000, Belichick’s first year on the job.
Belichick is one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, building a dynasty with quarterback Tom Brady and winning nine AFC championships and six Super Bowls (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018). Under Belichick, the franchise has had a winning record in 20 of his 24 seasons.
However, the relationship between Brady and Belichick was fractured by the end of the 2019 season, and Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. The following season, Brady led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title, the seventh of his storied career.
Over the last four years, the Patriots, meanwhile, tried quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jones and Zappe as their offense slowly became one of the league’s worst.
After arguably the best 20-year run in league history, the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since the 2018 Super Bowl and have gone 30-37 since Brady left.
Bill Belichick walks off the field as the Patriots head coach for potentially the final time.
In typical Belichick fashion, there was no extra emotion, no wave to the fans, no grand exit. pic.twitter.com/0uMYlj7IQL
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) January 7, 2024
What’s next for Belichick?
All eyes turn to Belichick. He brought more success to one franchise than any coach ever. But the Patriots just finished their worst season since 1992.
They’ve had a losing record in three of the four years since Brady left, leaving Belichick’s future very much up in the air. He’s expected to meet with the Krafts on Monday to discuss their path forward, but at this point, a “mutual parting” of ways is very much possible — if not likely. Belichick and Robert Kraft have had their differences for years, but now the success that smoothed over those rough patches has dried up.
The Patriots run their franchise far differently from any other, a siloed organization where collaboration is often discouraged in favor of whatever avenue Belichick seems fit. What he’s chosen in recent years hasn’t worked. That could lead to the Krafts desiring change and a more modern approach to the organizational structure. News of Belichick’s future could come as early as Monday. — Chad Graff, Patriots staff writer
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What’s next for the Patriots?
It was a fitting end to the season for the Patriots offense, which closes with the fewest points scored of any team. No matter who the coach is, the Patriots need a major overhaul on that side of the ball, including (but not limited to) a new quarterback, multiple new wide receivers and at least one new offensive tackle. — Graff
The Jets, finally, ended the skid of 15 straight games lost to the Patriots and Belichick. The game was meaningless in the grand scheme of things — these were two bad teams playing a game that didn’t matter at the end of disappointing seasons for both of them — but at least the Jets finally got this monkey off their back. They did it on the back of running back Breece Hall.
The Jets star set a career-high with 37 carries for 178 yards and he surpassed 1,500 total yards for the season with his performance, the first Jets running back to do that since Thomas Jones in 2008. The most impressive part is that Hall did it in his first year post-ACL surgery. Hall clinched the win with a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Now the Jets go into the offseason with a lot of questions — but Hall is not one of them. Expect the Jets to build their offense around his talents both as a runner and pass-catcher, and — if he stays healthy — should have a shot at 2,000 yards with Aaron Rodgers next year. — Zack Rosenblatt, Jets staff writer
(Photo: Winslow Townson / Getty Images)