New England Patriots, Bill Belichick

During his tenure with the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowl titles. However, it has been over six years since he last won a Super Bowl and three since his team last won a playoff game.

Belichick is considered a defensive guru and genius by many. In my mind he is the best football coach in the league right now and has been for some time.

However, Belichick has reached the point that he is absolved of his mistakes. In reality, if any other Head Coach had made the moves that he made this year, then he would have been fired.

Belichick rightfully receives a pass as far as keeping his job, however that does not mean he shouldn't be criticized. The team's no-name defense is infamous around the league for it's horrible showings this year.

The failed experiment with Albert Haynesworth limited the team's ability to play a dominant 4-3 defense, while the pieces in place for a 3-4 simply aren't good enough. While Mark Anderson and Andre Carter have made good impressions as of late, in the 4-3 scheme, the additions of Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis have essentially been flops.

To make matters worse, the secondary has been severely mismanaged since training camp and was neglected in the off-season.
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Releasing Brandon Meriweather wasn't a major point of contention as the much celebrated safety never truly played to his reputation nor did he play disciplined scheme football. However letting James Sanders go just before releasing Meriweather left a gaping hole at the back of the Patriots' defense.

Sanders is proving in Atlanta that he can still play football. His leadership, experience and sheer quality of play is being missed on the back end of the team's defense.

Letting players go before they start to decline is something that Belichick has excelled at for the most part of his career, but he also missed out when he brought back Leigh Bodden this year. Bodden wasn't a poor performer for the Patriots but never played the substantial role his salary demanded.

He is currently a free agent after being released just before the team's loss in Pittsburgh. However it made little sense to let the 30-year-old cornerback go at a point when the Patriots' defense was lacking experience to a fatal degree.

The team's lack of cornerback talent sees Devin McCourty struggling in his sophomore year while Kyle Arrington and Erik Molden follow him on the depth chart. Arrington is having a decent year with turnovers but his coverage will always be limited because of his size.

Belichick's defense wasn't helped by the loss of Ras-I Dowling to a season ending injury. However the fact that the Patriots only drafted one cornerback during the draft is another knock on the veteran head coach.

Instead of reinforcing a struggling defense, the Patriots used first, second and third round picks on players that they really didn't need.

Nate Solder was a fantastic selection and has looked better than Sebastien Vollmer this year when he got on the field. However a starting tackle really wasn't a need for the team, Solder may turn into a good pick in the long term, but he hasn't really improved the team this year.

While Solder, in my mind, is a good draft choice. That value is hurt because the team didn't fill needs with their other picks.

Dowling came next giving the team something they needed, a big physical corner. However the selections of Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen and Ryan Mallet have brought nothing to this year's Patriots so far.
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----------------The Mallet choice isn't a major issue because he was good value in the third round. You can never have too many quarterbacks, and Mallet is talented, but he remains the third choice quarterback behind Brian Hoyer. Mallet is on IR for the year.

The selections of Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen were simply baffling at the time. Nothing has changed as the months moved on.

Vereen hasn't seen the field, while Ridley has rarely ever ventured into the huddle. The Patriots never had a need for either back. With Tom Brady under center, the Patriots will be a balanced offense but rely more on the passing game.

That means that BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are more than capable players to carry the load in Boston. Throw a healthy again Kevin Faulk into the mix and the fourth and fifth choice running backs were wasted second round picks.

Instead of trying to improve the receivers outside and give Tom Brady better weapons, Belichick wasted draft picks on two players who can't even get onto the field.

It's not like Woodhead or Green-Ellis are playing dominant football either, any sort of flash play potential from Ridley should see him become the starter. That simply hasn't happened.

Belichick did attempt to bring in a better receiver on the outside for Tom Brady, but anyone that had watched Chad Ochocinco in recent years, would have seen that his speed has long since abandoned him.

Ochocinco is still a good receiver but he is another possession receiver. The fact that he hasn't fully grasped the offense yet makes him a poor addition to the roster. He may not have come at a cost, but adding Ochocinco takes the place of a player that could have potentially bettered the offense.

Even Jerome Simpson would have been a better fit for this offense.

It's easy to make decisions in hindsight, and it is even easier to nitpick with great head coaches in any sport, but Bill Belichick's season this year has been inexcusably bad.

Then again, they're still 7-3.

It's easy to kick someone when they are down, but this team isn't down right now. The only reason they are not down however, is the porous play of the AFC East around them.

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