ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum has never been afraid to take a swing at someone on air. So it should be no surprise that he was quick to tear into Patriots head coach Bill Belichick over something he disagreed with.
Appearing on Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin, Finebaum ripped the media for constantly praising Belichick as someone who “knows what he’s doing,” no matter what decisions he makes. He credited former Patriots QB Tom Brady for the success his teams have had over the last couple of years and is beginning to doubt that Belichick actually knows as much as everyone thinks he does.
“I am also rather concerned about this rather lazy, ‘Well, Bill Belichick knows what he’s doing.’ Really? Have you guys watched the New England Patriots in the last couple of years? Tom Brady knows what he’s doing. I am not sure Bill Belichick does,” Finebaum said, via PatriotsWire. “He’s made some dubious coaching hires… And I think he’s made some disastrous draft choices.”
Finebaum then turned his attention to the Patriots’ decision to draft Alabama QB Mac Jones 15th overall. He said while he thinks Jones is “a very good quarterback,” he doesn’t believe that just because Belichick drafted him he’s automatically going to become elite.
“I like Mac Jones a lot, I know I am burying the lead here. I think he is a very good quarterback. Will he be a great NFL quarterback? I have no earthly idea. But don’t confuse the fact that just because Bill Belichick drafts you, and he’s never drafted a quarterback (in the first round) before — big deal. Why did he need to draft a quarterback in the first round before that Mac Jones is automatically going to be the next Peyton Manning.”
— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) April 30, 2021
That’s obviously a very bold statement coming from the ESPN analyst. Though in fairness, the media’s “Belichick always knows what he’s doing” argument can be a lazy one at times.
“Bill Belichick is not the same coach today that he was back then because he doesn’t have the best player of all time,” Finebaum added. “And as I said about the takes, I think Bill has gotten a little bit lazy — not in terms of working, but in terms of cutting corners. He’s got a son on the staff for the last couple of years. Could his son get a job anywhere else? No. He’s got a defensive coordinator right now that I don’t think is up to NFL standards, and that is what I am talking about.
“I am not saying he should ride off into the sunset and Bob Kraft should throw him out the window. I was just making an observation about the media just automatically assuming that just because Bill Belichick does something, it’s right. If Bill Belichick had been doing what he had been doing previously he wouldn’t have been in the middle of the draft. He would have been at the end of the draft like normal.”
But while criticisms of Belichick’s drafting is warranted, let’s not forget that he’s still one of the NFL’s best defensive minds. In his entire tenure with the Patriots, Belichick has never had a defense finish worse than 17th in points allowed.
After going 7-9 in 2020, expectations will be high for the Patriots to return to the playoffs in 2021. Maybe they can do it with their new rookie QB.
But if they can’t, a lot of doubt about Belichick will begin to creep in.