I’m a New England Patriots fan that loves how Bill Belichick coaches football. I’m a New England Patriots fan that’s always hated how Bill Belichick drafts quarterbacks. Two things can be true at the same time.
Monday night, the world finally got to see what most Patriots fans have been in denial about for decades — the fact that our coach sucks at drafting quarterbacks. Mac Jones started after returning from a high left ankle sprain — he wasn’t good. Brian Hoyer, who started the season as Jones’ backup, was placed on injured reserve earlier this month after suffering a concussion — he’s never been good. And Bailey Zappe, New England’s fourth-round rookie that had been the starter the last few weeks, came in and looked great for a total of five seconds before committing three turnovers — Zappe’s numbers in the previous weeks may have been good, but he wasn’t.
Belichick is the emperor with new clothes. He’s finally being exposed for how terrible he’s always been at selecting quarterbacks.
When the greatest coach of all time showed up in New England, he already had a franchise quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. We all know how that turned out, as Tom Brady eventually took over for Bledsoe when he was injured — and has never looked back. But, for some reason, Belichick has unfairly gotten the praise for drafting the greatest football player of all time. If you’re a great talent evaluator, then it shouldn’t have taken you until the 199th pick to say to yourself, “And this is the moment where we take the G.O.A.T. off the board.” And while it’s fun took look back at the six quarterbacks that were drafted before Brady in 2000 (Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn) it’s not like Belichick took a shot at any of them to be a manageable backup for Bledsoe on a team that also had John Friesz and Michael Bishop on the depth chart in his first season in New England.
Having Bledsoe on your roster when you show up is a blessing. Taking a guy in the sixth round who turns into the greatest quarterback of all time is a miracle. But never being able to draft a capable backup or eventual heir during your tenure is blasphemy. Rohan Davey, Kliff Kingsbury, Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Zac Robinson, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, Danny Etling, Jarrett Stidham, Jones, and Zappe make up the list of quarterbacks that Belichick has taken since lucking up on Brady.
Every guy on that list was either terrible, couldn’t cut in New England, or found moderate success in other places as a capable backup or spot-duty starter. The crowd that likes to be loud and wrong will defend them and say, “hey, but they’re mostly guys taken in later rounds,” without mentioning the fact that continually waiting to take quarterbacks deep in the draft is a willful decision of Belichick’s.
And for anybody that wants to make a case for Garoppolo, just pay attention to 49ers fans and their love/hate relationship with him. Mind you, this list doesn’t even include the dismal free agent signings over the years or the COVID-19 disaster of a season that featured Cam Newton. There are also names like Keithen McCant and Eric Zeier, who are the quarterbacks Belichick drafted when he was in Cleveland — further proving the point that he’s always been terrible at this part of his job.
Belichick got lazy because he had a durable guy under center in Brady, a defense he was in control of, and special teams units who don’t make mistakes. It was the perfect recipe for 20 seasons as it produced six Super Bowl wins. However, if you ever bothered to pay attention you would see that Belichick was a Michelin-star chef cooking in a restaurant without a generator. And when Tom Brady left, the power in the quarterback room went with him.
Under Bill Belichick, the mantra in New England has always been “Do Your Job.” But on Monday Night Football, NFL fans saw that Belichick hasn’t been doing a big part of his job since the ‘90s — which is learning how to draft a franchise quarterback.