With the Dallas Cowboys looming, the Patriots could see an 0-4 start on the horizon if they don’t correct mistakes and get their offensive line back in shape. The latter will certainly be a key factor to watch Sunday against a Jets’ defensive line starving to help their team snap a 14-game losing streak to the Belichick and the Patriots.
From dynasty to disaster? The plight of Patriots coach Bill Belichick
If that happens and the Jets drop the Patriots to 0-3, the talks will certainly stop rumbling about tanking to secure one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. Although the season would be on the brink of a disaster, the silver lining is that it could land a player like USC’s Caleb Williams or a talent like Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. It’s likely that if the Patriots are even in that position, Bill Belichick won’t be selecting the players because he won’t be the coach.
So, tanking won’t be in the vocabulary for the legendary coach. Even if the worse happens and the team starts the season at 0-4, there are signs that they can put together a streak of victories and somehow save the season. As intriguing as a Caleb Williams or Drake Maye would be at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft, a Belichick coached team won’t bottom out, even if fans wish for that scenario.
Unless there are a string of major injuries the team won’t be able to bunch back from, the Patriots will compete and likely win games they aren’t supposed to win. Somehow, Mac Jones and the offense will find consistency in execution. With most of the talent on the defensive side, the Patriots will be in games, so forget about tanking.
2024 NFL Draft: Patriots could just be a team that loses a lot of games
Now, that doesn’t mean a Top 10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft won’t be in the picture, but Belichick is coaching for his NFL life in 2023. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is too proud and too use to winning to sit in the press boxes and watch a product playing for players like Williams, Maye and Harrison Jr. vs playing for pride, Patriots pride.
Aside from the 2024 NFL Draft, the team will have other tools to rebuild or upgrade their team. They have a ton of cap space, and there are some intriguing players entering free agency and/or will be available via draft. Of course, the direction the team takes will depend on Mac Jones and whether he proves he can drive the ship with elite talent around him.
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Yes, Marvin Harrison Jr would be that elite talent, but Belichick has never depended on unproven players. His goal for the rest of this season, particularly the beginning of the season is to get the players to buy in. With near victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, there is enough evidence that they can win games. Those game also proved that is there is margin for error because of the talent gap.
That is where high draft position becomes intriguing. But then again, if Bill Belichick is still running the show by the time the 2024 NFL Draft rolls around, trading that pick for more draft capital would be at play. That would drive New England Patriots fans crazy as expected as it would be.
So, tanking if not in the cards for Belichick. He’s too stubborn of a coach to throw in the talent…. this early in the NFL season.