There's no question about the fact that Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in sports history, much less NFL history, but even the greats fall short at times. The 2023 season was undoubtedly an instance where Belichick's shortcomings were on display, and in a variety of ways.
And we're not even grading on the Tom Brady curve, at this point. There are simply too many ways that Belichick has fallen off and cost the team in recent years, and they've started to actually pile up and compound over the last few seasons.
What mistakes by Belichick cost the Patriots the most in the 2023 season? Let's take a look at a trio of different ones.
1. Mishandling the Mac Jones situation
The New England Patriots invested a first-round pick in quarterback Mac Jones. If only they treated him like a first-round pick...
Part of Mac Jones's stunted development undoubtedly had to do with the fact that Josh McDaniels left for the Las Vegas Raiders in his second season. That left the Patriots with an odd situation on their hands. You obviously want Jones to continue in his development, but you also want to make sure that there's some continuity.
The Patriots put together one of the strangest collections of coaches possible for Jones in 2022, and his growth was predictably stunted. Jones had a bad second year for the Patriots, and an even worse third season when the Patriots tried to right their wrongs by bringing back Bill O'Brien to coach the offense.
It didn't work.
Jones threw 12 interceptions in 11 games, and was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe in the final leg of the season.
Now, entering his fourth season, the Patriots seem likely not only to leave Jones's fifth-year option on the table, but let him go entirely. I think Jones will be on another NFL roster in 2024 and it's all because of the way Belichick mishandled his development. Josh McDaniels leaving shouldn't have been a death sentence on Jones's career with New England, especially with how well he played in his rookie season.