The New England Patriots are in the midst of their worst season since 2002, and Bill Belichick is taking a lot of the blame for the team's lackluster results.
The Patriots' losing streak reached four games with Sunday's Week 8 defeat to the Buffalo Bills. New England has a 2-5 record in third place in the AFC East, trailing the first-place Bills by 3.5 games.
Belichick, as the head coach and someone with enormous control over the roster, is taking a lot of heat during the team's recent skid.
Whether it's coaching decisions -- like going for an onside kick in the second half of Sunday's loss in Buffalo -- or not constructing a roster talented or deep enough to beat quality teams, Belichick is hearing more criticism than usual.
The latest batch of blame hurled his way comes from former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who ripped Belichick on Monday's episode of "First Things First" on FOX Sports 1.
“I would say that this is Bill Belichick’s worst outing as a coach and a GM,” Marshall said. “He needs to come out and tell us what his plan is. Are we just building this thing up for next year or are we really trying to compete?
"If you’re really trying to compete, then you would get some guys around Cam Newton. Name their tight ends. Name their wide receivers. Who is contributing? It can’t all be on Cam Newton. So, for me, there’s more to this discussion than just Cam Newton.”
The Patriots do need to surround Newton, or whoever is playing quarterback, with more weapons at the skill positions. There's no doubt about that. New England might have the worst skill position group in the league. The tight end position, where the Patriots have tallied the fewest receptions of any team in 2020, is especially brutal.
Belichick has been more candid about the team's situation over the last week than we've seen previously. He's talked about the Patriots' salary cap dilemma, how they "sold out" in recent years to compete for Super Bowl titles, and how that decision has impacted this year's roster.
There's no question 2020 has been a struggle for the Patriots, but with a boatload of salary cap space and 11 draft picks (including projected compensatory picks) entering the offseason, Belichick should have plenty of flexibility to restock the roster and fortify its weaknesses.