The league’s consistently unpredictable head coaching carousel felt uncharacteristically predictable only a few weeks back. The Falcons had fired its former head coach Arthur Smith after back-to-back-to-back 7-10 seasons. Rumors quickly circulated that the Falcons were interested in the greatest coach in NFL history, kicking off with a one-on-one between Belichick and team owner Arthur Blank on the latter’s yacht.
In fact, the Falcons (including a bigger group other than just team owner) completed its second interview with Belichick before others had their shot at a first interview. It had so many Blank fingerprints that I still can’t believe it can’t happen. A big, flashy name. A new face of the franchise. Instead credibility across the league. A sell to fans that the team will get better.
It was as if it all made too much sense. It is as if there’s so much smoke it chokes out the fire. That thing that was almost certain to happen... doesn’t. Belichick felt mere minutes from being announced the head coach/general manager/president/offensive coordinator/defensive coordinator/chief operations officer/head of marketing. Then other interviews picked up, the smoke disappeared, and Raheem Morris was announced as the team head coach.
So what happened? Jeff Howe of The Athletic performed the postmortem on Bill Belichick’s transition from head of the Patriots to on the outs.
Per Howe, it is so much more than simply Belichick’s age. Many assumed Belichick may only have a few years left before he eventually calls it quits. And OK, Rich McKay is partly to blame.
The most surprising part is that, per Howe, the reasons Belichick didn’t get hired are the same reasons why he was fired. Apparently, if Belichick wouldn’t change for the Patriots, he definitely wasn’t going to change for the Falcons.
Three primary reasons were echoed by numerous league sources: Belichick’s mishandling of the Patriots’ quarterback situation in recent years, his desire to maintain total control of football operations and a growing concern over the coach’s ability to relate to this generation of players.
Part two is referenced with Belichick’s apparent poor relationship with McKay. It sounds likely it would have been with Belichick or McKay, not both.
Most of the concerns have been echoed by reporters all offseason. Things ended poorly in New England thanks to years and years of both poor drafting and poor offenses. It’s quarterback succession plan seemed as well thought out as Atlanta’s. Perhaps Belichick’s inability to find a replacement for Tom Brady doesn’t make him a good solution to find the Matt Ryan replacement.
Oh, plugging in Matt Patricia makes league sources not trust Belichick either.
In short, things were happening Belichick’s way and only Belichick’s way. The Falcons, and all the other teams with an opening, felt that wasn’t going to work in the future.