The Media Column: Belichick is a legend, but this season he's become a laughingstock


bill Belichick is humiliating himself

It doesn’t get any worse for Bill Belichick. Once again, the Bills embarrassed the Patriots in primetime, and New England’s offense looked completely inept.

Now, it’s not just the usual carnival barkers who are piling on Belichick and his insane decision to put Matt Patricia in charge of the Patriots’ offense. Ex-NFL players, media allies and even one mediocre coordinator are sounding off.

Belichick’s legacy is secure; but right now, he’s more laughingstock than legend.

The nadir for Belichick came Thursday, when Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph trolled the Patriots for their simplistic offensive scheme. “It’s like a defensive guy is calling the offense,” he told reporters. “It’s how a defensive guy would call offensive plays, right? Let’s not turn the ball over, let’s get four yards a play and try to burn clock. That’s what they’re doing. That’s what he’s going to do on Monday night.”

Those are confident words from Joseph, who’s best known for being the subject of an awkward sideline report. The Broncos fired him as head coach after back-to-back losing seasons, and now he runs Arizona’s defense, which is the worst red zone unit in the league.

The Cardinals are 4-8 and home underdogs on “Monday Night Football.” Yet, Joseph isn’t afraid of providing the Patriots with bulletin board material.

Patricia doesn’t know what to do with it. Belichick’s six Super Bowl rings aren’t enough to cover up this mess.

Ex-NFL quarterbacks, including one whom Belichick embarrassed in one of those six Super Bowl wins, are burying the hapless Pats. Kurt Warner ripped apart their offense in an hourlong video breakdown, and said he would be “bored to death” playing quarterback here. Dan Orlovsky said Mac Jones should demand a trade if the situation doesn’t improve.

The Patriots are no longer a well-run team, and everybody knows it. The disdain in Al Michaels’ voice was palpable when he questioned the Patriots’ bizarre timeout usage at the end of the first half against the Buffalo.

“We’re so used to seeing such judicious use of timeouts by New England. That was very odd,” said Michaels. “That strategy was not New England-like.”

ESPN’s Mike Reiss pointed out how the Patriots are “no longer the masters of situational football” in his Sunday notes column, given that they’ve accepted 23 more penalties than their opponents this season — the greatest differential in the NFL.

Most tellingly, Belichick loyalist Mike Lombardi even laid into the Patriots this week. Belichick’s long-time toady said the Patriots “don’t have an offense. They just run a bunch of plays.”

That must sting.

As the walls cave in, Belichick is becoming more defensive. A few days ago, he said he “felt good” about the Patriots’ offensive system.

Fox Sports AFC East reporter Henry McKenna said this week on my “Sports Media Mayhem” podcast he thinks there’s a noticeable difference in how Belichick is treating the media this season compared to previous years.

“I think Belichick has been nicer than ever to the media. How often do we see bristly, death-state, deadpan Belichick? How many times this season has he gone viral for that?,” said McKenna. "Usually, he’s gone viral five times by now. This year, probably no times. You see the concerted effort from him to win over public opinion. Why? Because he knows he’s losing it.”

Belichick’s charm offensive may also be aimed at the man who signs his pay check. It’s well-known that Robert Kraft doesn’t love Belichick’s caustic demeanor. Seth Wickersham reported in his tell-all Patriots book that Kraft once called Belichick the “biggest [expletive] a—hole in my entire life.”

Prior to the season, Kraft expressed his unhappiness about the Patriots not winning a playoff game in three years, and maybe he’s getting impatient. Peter King, who’s close with Kraft, wrote that he’s starting to wonder whether Belichick will break Don Shula’s all-time wins record in New England. Belichick is just 21 wins shy.

Belichick prides himself on ignoring the noise. But right now, the chorus of criticism is only getting louder.


Should miserable Al Michaels just retire?: Al Michaels is clearly not enjoying himself on Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football.” I mean, he grumbled about the Ram’s PA announcer last night.

“You have a PA announcer here who incessantly screams 'whose house?'" Michaels bemoaned after noting there were more Raiders fans than Rams fans at SoFi Stadium. "I hate it, he wants them to say 'Rams house,' but as far as the Raiders are concerned, well this is kind of their Airbnb.”

With a reported salary of $1 million per game, it’s hard to feel bad for Michaels, who can’t be surprised Thursday night games stink.

But at this point, one wonders whether Michaels should just retire. He signed a three-year deal with Amazon. Does he really want to be calling these lousy games into his 80s?

He surely doesn’t sound like it …

al michaels should retire

Buck and Aikman haven’t been worth the money: ESPN is spending $30 million annually on Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. But so far, their star power hasn’t resulted in better ratings for “Monday Night Football.” Viewership for MNF has declined in eight of the last 10 weeks, including Tom Brady’s epic comeback win against the Saints.

Nearly 3 million more people tuned into that horrible Patriots-Bills wind game last season than Brady’s record-setting 44th career comeback win.

Meanwhile, Giants-Cowboys set the NFL’s all-time regular season viewership record on Thanksgiving, with Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen on the call.

The game brings in the audience — not the announcers.

Celtics ratings up big this season: If you win, they will tune in.

Celtics ratings are up 45 percent over last season, which isn’t surprising, since they’ve won 17 of their last 19 games.

Every moment we spend talking about the Patriots instead of the Celtics or Bruins seems like sports negligence.

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports