Speaking on the “4th&1 with Cam Newton” podcast, Newton told Dan Katz for Barstool Sports: “Knowing what I do know, he’s hoping that he can land Bill Belichick. That, right there, would be a win-win, win-win for David Tepper.”
According to Newton, “Tepper would give him (Belichick) everything he needs.” Newton called the autonomy Belichick would get an “enticing lure” to show people he can win outside New England.
The pressure is increasing on Belichick to prove his decorated career as a head coach can be attributed to more than just Tom Brady playing quarterback for two decades. A dynasty has unraveled since Brady left town in 2020, with Newton getting the first crack at replacing the legendary signal-caller.
Belichick couldn’t win with Newton, and he hasn’t been able to win with Mac Jones. Things have reached the lowest point in 2023, with the Patriots languishing at 2-9.
The time appears ripe for Belichick to move on, but he might think twice about making Bank of America Stadium his next destination. Especially given Tepper’s penchant for giving coaches a short lease.
Bill Belichick’s Reputation Taking a Battering Post-Brady
Belichick is taking shots from everywhere while the Patriots are losing. Longtime rivals like former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan credit Brady as the true source of Belichick’s success.
It’s a tough accusation for Belichick to duck when he’s enjoyed just three winning seasons without Brady. One of those victorious campaigns came in 2021 after Belichick drafted Jones 15th overall to replace Newton.
The latter threw just eight touchdowns compared with 10 interceptions en route to a 7-9 record a year earlier. Newton was quickly cast aside for Jones, who promptly earned a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie.
Rather than being the start of a promising career, Jones’ Pro Bowl berth has been the lone high point. The scale of his regression since has been alarming, with the nadir coming courtesy of a scarcely believable QB rating during the 10-7 defeat to the New York Giants in Week 12, per Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.
Jones was benched for Bailey Zappe against the Giants, but the damage had already been done. It was done when Belichick let former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and ex-Special Teams coach Joe Judge call the offense for Jones in 2022.
Misery continued while Belichick’s signings like wide receivers DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster have failed to make the grade. Belichick’s mistakes have been magnified without Brady’s brilliance to mask them.
The benefits of Brady are summed up by this telling statistical comparison with Jones from NFL Network’s Michael F. Florio: “Tom Brady played 283 games under Bill Belichick. Only 4 times did he have a game with 0 TDs and 2 INTs Mac Jones has 5 games with 0 TDs and 2 INTs in 42 career games.”
Not being able to win, or even compete at a decent level, without Brady will always leave a question mark about Belichick’s credentials as a head coach, despite six Super Bowl titles.
Belichick can end the questions by rebuilding a losing franchise into a champion. The Panthers present that opportunity, but other factors may not suit Belichick.
Panthers a Tough Job for Bill Belichick
There are things Belichick ought to like about the Panthers. Specifically, a young and talented defense featuring quality players like edge-rusher Brian Burns, defensive tackle Derrick Brown and hybrid safety Jeremy Chinn.
The problem is on offense, where Bryce Young is struggling as much as Jones. Young, the first-overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, needs a coach able to develop quarterbacks. Belichick hardly fits the bill based on life after Brady.
Tepper’s overbearing influence is another drawback. He ditched Reich after only 11 games on Monday, November 27.
It means “Tepper now is looking for his fourth head coach since 2019,” according to Mike Jones of The Athletic. Jones’ colleague Joseph Person thinks “Tepper’s reputation for being a hands-on owner” would prompt Belichick to reject any approach from Charlotte.
Newton might be right about Tepper’s ideal target to replace Reich, but Belichick would be wise to look elsewhere.