Can Bill Belichick build Patriots back into Super Bowl contenders? Boomer Esiason weighs in

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The Patriots have officially been eliminated from playoff contention and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008. The question now is how quickly Bill Belichick and Co. can get New England back to the playoffs and back to being a Super Bowl contender.

With Belichick now 68 years old, it would seem like he'd be motivated to make this "rebuild" a short one and not have it drag on for five-plus years like so many other teams' rebuilds have.

Appearing on The Greg Hill Show with Mike Mutnansky and Jermaine Wiggins Monday morning, CBS analyst and WFAN host Boomer Esiason was asked if he thinks Belichick can get the Patriots back into Super Bowl contention within the next five years.

"I do. I think that these things can turn around relatively quickly if he gets the right guy behind center," Esiason said. "The problem that he may have is that the division is not going to be as poor as it has been in past years. Some of these teams have had little spikes, but I do believe with Josh Allen and Tua and Brian Flores and Sean McDermott, that you have two franchises [the Bills and Dolphins] that are clearly heading in the right direction, they’re stable franchises, and they’ve got young quarterbacks who should have long, productive careers.

"...Now all of a sudden New England is a little bit in a state of flux, but they’ve got the one guy that is the most important guy, and that’s the guy that runs the franchise, making the player decisions and also making the gameday decisions. I don’t see why they couldn’t get back quicker than five years."

Of course, that "if he gets the right guy behind center" is a big if. Esiason acknowledged that the Patriots also need to improve their wide receiver and tight end groups, but said that finding the next starting quarterback takes precedent over everything else.

"Until you have the quarterback that is going to bring the best out in everybody, as we saw again yesterday from Tom Brady after [the Buccaneers] got down 17-0, all these other positions are moot," Esiason said. "You have to find the guy that’s going to be the leader, and that’s always the hardest thing for every NFL team to do. Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo comes back from San Francisco if San Francisco wants to move on from the oft-injured Garoppolo and maybe go after somebody else that might be available.

"...I think the running back situation is fine up in New England. I think the offensive line situation will be fine. But their quarterback, tight ends and wide receivers leave a lot to be desired and may be the worst group collectively in the NFL, and that’s saying something."