Since Bill Belichick became the head coach of the New England Patriots, the team has had one of the greatest two-decade runs of any franchise. For 20 years, they were basically locks to make the AFC Championship before the season even started and played in nine Super Bowls, winning six.
But since quarterback Tom Brady left the team to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, things have been less exciting in Foxboro. The Patriots lost in the wild card round in Brady's last year with the team and in the three years since have only made the playoffs once, losing in the wild card round in 2021.
They haven't won the AFC East since 2019, something they did 17 times with Brady leading the offense. While the defense has displayed great talent, the offense has struggled. Such a stark change from unmatched success to struggling to make the playoffs can make New England fans weary of the future of the team.
When asked why fans should be optimistic for what's ahead for the Patriots, Belichick gave a short, direct answer, as he typically does.
"The last 25 years," he said (via ESPN), referencing the dynasties and hundreds of wins the team has experienced.
Safety Devin McCourty, who announced his retirement this offseason, showed some support for his former coach by tweeting, "Talk your sh-- Bill," along with laughing emojis.
However, the Patriots head coach did clarify his comments to The Boston Globe on Wednesday, signaling that the central focus is to improve in 2023 and not to merely look back to former glory.
"We're not resting on our past laurels; that's not the message to the team or the fans," said Belichick "We have never operated that way and aren't now."
The road to the playoffs is not getting easier in the AFC East, with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen still a top player in the league and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers on the verge of signing with the New York Jets.The Patriots still have the draft to beef up their squad and address some of the issues that have kept them from making a playoff run the past three seasons.