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To B… elichick? or not to B… elichick

If there’s one thing all sports fans have in common, it’s a flair for the dramatic. That new guy? He’s the best. That old guy? He’s also the best. But wait… he made a mistake. HE SUCKS NOW! Win more than anyone else in the league over a span of 2 decades? You’re the GOAT. But wait, we aren’t still winning at the same rate? I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU (angry Anakin voice… rahhh!)

Given the miserable showing against the Cowboys and the ongoing struggles that have plagued the team for the last few years, a not insignificant number of people are genuinely believing that Bill needs to go and is no longer the guy who should be in charge of the Patriots. He’s arguably the best coach of all time… but also… HE SUCKS NOW!

The Patriot's record in the post-Brady years is admittedly far, far short of the standard of excellence set for the previous 20 years. Which leads me to the point of this exercise in time wasting. Is Bill the victim of his own success when it comes to the current sub-par performance of the team? How do other coaches around the league stack up during their “down years”? We’ll look at the three longest-tenured and compare them to Bill. That’s Tomlin, Harbaugh, and old friend Pete Carroll.

First, a quick look at Bill’s tenure

Bill’s first year in NE resulted in a 5-11 record. After that freshman season, the Pats had 19 straight winning seasons, highlighted by 16-0 in 07, 4 years at 14-2, and double-digit wins in 18 of 19 seasons. Oh yeah, and six superb owls. Prettay, prettay, prettay good.

Then there’s this:

2020: 7-9

2021: 10-7 (mac year 1)

2022: 8-9

2023: Currently 1-3

Not great. Some might say bad. Still, others say it's totally unacceptable and proof that Bill has lost “it”. Bill doesn’t know how the NFL works anymore… never mind that last year, there were 14 teams with worse records than the Patriots. Or the fact that the NFC South exists. Erroneous! Bill sucks now. He’s washed! We haven't made the playoffs in... *googles playoff records*... a full season! It's time to kick that geriatric curmudgeon to the curb!

Pete Carroll and his 14-year tenure in Seattle

9 consecutive winning seasons (10 total), double digits wins 8 times. 1 Superbowl. Then a 7-10 losing season, a 9-8 year with a wild card round loss, and a 2-1 (3-1 by the time this article is finished, thanks to the hapless giants) record this year. Seems like a pretty successful tenure, I mean aside from the whole “only winning 1 superbowl” thing. Also the 5 losing seasons. You know what, come to think of it this guy sucks.

How about Mike Tomlin’s 17 years with the Steelers

Not a single losing season! Not one! Incredible! I mean, he has 3 years at 8-8, but still, no losing seasons! He even won a Super Bowl. This guy definitely knows what he’s doing. Had 8 years of double digit wins. Funny thing about the number 8- that’s how many times the Steelers have been in the playoffs since their Super Bowl win. 8 playoff trips, 0 SB’s to show for it. But hey, at least he won that 1st one. Now take that number 8 and double it. 16. That’s how many years ago he won that Super Bowl. Tomlin is clearly one of the best coaches in the league. But also, he sucks!

Next, let's do Whiney McWhinesalot… I mean John Harbaugh and his 16 years with Baltimore

10 winning seasons, nine years of double-digit wins, and 1 Superbowl. But that Superbowl? It's been 84 years... Ok, not 84, 11. But it feels like it's been 84 years to Ravens fans. Oh, and after that SB win? 40-40 record over the next five years. BUM! Then 3 straight seasons with double-digit wins. GENIUS! Then 8-9 OVERRATED! Then double-digit wins again. LEGENDARY COACH! and this year, a 3-1 start. The very definition of a roller coaster of success. So Harbaugh is totally the guy, except he’s not, but he is! Except for when he sucks.

That brings us back to Bill. Bill’s “bad years” are nowhere close to the bad years endured by teams like the Lions. But the Lions haven’t exactly had coaching stability, either. In fact, most teams that ACTUALLY lose a lot, like 3-13, 4-12, 5-11 seasons, or teams that never even sniff the playoffs, THOSE teams do fire their coaches because the coaches aren’t getting it done.

For what it's worth, Harbaugh’s longest streak of missing the playoffs entirely is 3 years. He also went five years without a playoff win. Tomlin’s longest streak of missing the playoffs is 2 years, but he’s currently riding a 6-year playoff winless streak. Carroll has never actually missed the playoffs 2 years in a row, and his longest playoff-winning drought is the one he’s currently on- not having won a post-season game since 2019.

The longest playoff drought in Bill’s career? One year. Psh… what a scrub. Years without a playoff win? 4 in a row now. Ok, but actually, that does suck. *whispers* But remember those Lions? It’s been 84 years… again, I kid, I kid. It's been 31. 31 years without a playoff win. Thoughts and prayers!

Is it disappointing right now? Yes. Is it Bill’s fault? Also, yes. But NO coach will go through a career without peaks and valleys. Bill’s peak was a plateau that was so far ahead of everyone else he’s now knocked for having the kind of season (or stretch of seasons) that most coaches have as their average years. If our trio of mainstay coaches can be considered among the best coaches in the league despite having their long tenures littered with down seasons, playoff droughts, and 3 Super Bowl wins combined, and if they are consistently afforded the benefit of the doubt to get their teams through tough times and back to winning times, then maybe Bill should be given some of that same leeway.

So to summarize: Bill is, for the first time, in a position that all of the other "great" coaches have gone through in their careers. Of the three longest-tenured in the league right now, they’ve all managed to turn it around. I think Bill can do it. Call me crazy, but... *whispers* in Bill I still trust.

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Riley King
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