FOXBOROUGH — After 20 years, he's certainly earned this mulligan.
BillBelichick is already one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. What he built in this town that football seemed to forget for 40-plus years will stand the test of time. What he's done in the salary-cap era will most likely go unmatched.
Six Super Bowl titles. 304 wins. 17 consecutive 10-win seasons. All the numbers are ridiculous. You probably know them by heart.
But Belichick is also not perfect. He's not infallible. This season proved that, not that you didn't know that beforehand.
The Patriots failed this season — and finishing 4-5 down the stretch, blowing a bye with a Week 17 home loss to the Dolphins, and falling 20-13 to the Tennessee Titans in a home wild-card game is failing when you're the New England Patriots — because this team just wasn't good enough.
[caption id="attachment_551510" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Olindo Longo for BSJ)[/caption]
You didn't have to be a football genius to know Belichick had pushed all his chips to the center of the table with the lack of moves he made on offense in the offseason, and retaining every single player on defense. The oldest team to win a Super Bowl was doubling down and trying it (hopefully) one more time.
And they were going to do it on defense or bust.
In the wild-card round.
That's not to say this is on the defense. It's not, totally. They did