In the National Football League (NFL) careers are often over quickly. NFL means “not for long,” some players joke, not without a touch of doggedness. On average, a career in the football league lasts three years and then it’s over. Because of injuries – or because younger, better players come in and do the job for less money. The ripcords are short, mistakes are hardly forgiven in the fast-moving, billion-dollar NFL business.
This also applies to the trainers, with small restrictions. You are constantly under pressure to succeed and have to deliver. The NFL season is significantly shorter than in other American sports leagues, 17 games, then it goes into the play-offs – or not. The team owners are investing heavily; they want to see success. If things don’t work, the staff will be replaced. And there are currently increasing signs that one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, coaches in the history of the NFL could get caught.
Belichick has long been considered untouchable
Bill Belichick has with the New England Patriots have won almost everything there was to win over the past 23 years. Under his leadership, the team reached the Super Bowl nine times and the Patriots won the title six times. No other team has won the NFL final more often – since the Super Bowl existed (1967).
No other coach has been in office longer, and no other active coach has more victories (331). Together with quarterback Tom Brady Belichick created a football dynasty in New England that is extremely rare in the NFL because the league’s system is designed to prevent such long-lasting successful streaks for individual teams, particularly through the distribution of young players. This is one of the reasons why he was considered untouchable for a long time.
But things haven’t been going well for the Patriots for some time now. The last title dates back to 2019, since then the team has even missed the play-offs twice and lost more games than they won in a season for the first time under Belichick. This year, too, New England has already come under the wheels several times, has only two wins and eight defeats, and there is therefore more intense speculation than ever before about a change in the head coaching position in New England, especially in the US media .
During the game in Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts, it was clear to see the problems the team is currently struggling with. Quarterback Mac Jones, who threw a momentous interception in the fourth quarter and was then even substituted – the maximum penalty for a quarterback – lacks the quality to really be able to excel with an offense without big stars.
In addition, there is an offensive line weakened by injuries, and in defense, which is Belichick’s main focus, New England is no longer one of the top teams in the league. In the end, the Patriots deservedly lost 6:10 in front of 50,000 spectators in a sold-out stadium, in which the New England fans had the acoustic preponderance. “As a team we don’t do enough to win. Everyone needs to improve. It’s that simple,” Belichick said after the game. “We just didn’t do a good job today.”
The NFL is hosting two of its regular season games in Germany this year, the previous week the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Miami Dolphins. Belichick arrived in a good mood, smiled a lot in the press conference on Friday afternoon and even joked with the journalists from Germany present, which is otherwise less in keeping with the 71-year-old’s nature.
There wasn’t much of a sense of crisis. Not yet. As can be heard from the ranks of the Patriots, the relationship between Belichick and Team owner Robert Kraft but actually burdened, the unrestricted trust in the coach that existed for more than 20 years is no longer present in all parts of the management. A separation at the end of the season after probably missing the play-offs again seems conceivable. That’s how business works. When asked about this after the game in Frankfurt, Belichick only said briefly: “I just do my best every day.”
Belichick, whose contract in New England was extended this summer until the end of next season, will then become a sought-after man on the coaching market, despite his advanced age. Some teams in the league will be looking. For example, the Las Vegas Raiders, who fired Josh McDaniels, Belichick’s former assistant in New England, just two weeks ago.
The post first appeared on www.faz.net