Even the best make mistakes. That is the case when it comes to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The four-time winning Super Bowl coach has been regarded as the top coach in the league for quite some time and is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
The thing that makes Belichick so great is the ability to make adjustments on the fly. What stands out when it comes to the Patriots gameplan is that they have no clear-cut style of play. They gameplan according to their opponent's weakness. If their opponent has a weak passing defense, they will have quarterback Tom Brady line up and throw the ball 40-plus times without hesitation. If the other team can't stop the run, they will have no problem handing the ball off all game. Simply put, Belichick will do whatever it takes to win and is willing to make the necessary adjustments to make him team a contender for the Lombardi Trophy.
These include taking drastic measures when it comes to constructing a roster. Belichick is considered to be the team's general manager while serving as their coach, a rarity in the National Football League. He is not afraid to make unpopular decisions and strongly believes that cutting a player a year too early, rather than a year too late is ultimately the best decision for the team's success.
He also takes on troubled players with track records of making bad decisions and giving them a chance to come into a system that will hold them accountable for their actions. Belichick is a big believer in the motto that a player just has to do their job in order for the team to be on the winning end when the clock hits zero in the fourth quarter. Some of these players include running back Corey Dillon and wide receiver Randy Moss, who both displayed a tremendous amount of talent on the football field, but who had issues with their previous teams. Dillon would go on to win a Super Bowl with the team and Moss was a major factor in the team going undefeated during the 2007 regular season and, if it were not for one of the most spectacular catches in the history of the Super Bowl by David Tyree, he would have a ring as well.
With that being said, Belichick has made some horrid decisions when it comes to player personnel. Here is a look at the 15 players Belichick made a mistake on through way of a free agent signing, trade, or draft.
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The New England Patriots had high hopes for Dowling when they selected him in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2011 draft. The cornerback out of Virginia Tech was considered a risk at that spot due to his injury history, but that didn't stop Belichick from giving him a chance. In two seasons with the Patriots, Dowling played a grand total of nine games with seven solo tackles and a single pass defended.
14 Adrian Wilson
The veteran safety was brought in to New England in 2013 to provide veteran leadership and stability at a position where it was sorely needed. Wilson spent his entire career in the Arizona Cardinals organization prior to joining the Patriots. Nobody would know if Wilson had anything left in the tank more than the Arizona Cardinals, where he spent 12 seasons. If the Cardinals let him walk out the door without hesitation, there should have been warning signs that this guy couldn't play anymore. The team signed Wilson to a three-year, $5 million deal before he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the preseason finale. He never played a meaningful snap with the Patriots as they cut him soon after and signed Patrick Chung.
13 Ron Brace
Belichick drafted Ron Brace out of Boston College with the 40th overall pick. The team actually traded up with the Oakland Raiders to acquire the defensive tackle's services. Anytime you see Belichick trade up to get a certain player, people take notice. However, Brace only played four NFL seasons, all with the Patriots, and produced disappointing results to say the least. Brace played 39 games and only started seven while coming up with 24 tackles.
12 Terrence Wheatley
The Patriots selected Wheatley in the second round of the 2008 draft (62nd overall) out of Colorado. In two seasons with the Patriots, Wheatley only appeared in 11 games and had a whopping total of three tackles. He would go on to play two more seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, respectively. In those two seasons, he had one tackle, making him one of the bigger draft busts in Patriots history.
11 Darius Butler
Even though Butler had a strong rookie season with three interceptions, the Patriots gave up on him after two seasons and he's gone on to become a decent rotational player for the Indianapolis Colts. What makes it worse is the fact that the Patriots traded their first round pick to the Green Bay Packers, who decided to draft a pretty good linebacker out of the University of Southern California by the name of Clay Matthews.
10 Ryan Mallet
Anytime the Patriots draft a quarterback, people tend to take notice. Mallet was drafted by the Patriots in the third round (74th overall) out of Arkansas back in 2011. At the time, the move was considered a great value pick due to the fact that Mallet was a projected first-round pick but fell due to his alleged use of marijuana and cocaine. Mallet never really developed the way the Patriots hoped, so they shipped him to Houston. He didn't prove to be much better there and was cut by the team after only a year and half. He now plays for the Baltimore Ravens and seems as if he will forever be a journeyman back up quarterback.
9 Joey Galloway
Sometimes, a player is a bust because you sign him at the end of his career and are wasting a valuable roster spot on them. That was the case when the Patriots signed wide receiver Joey Galloway. The veteran wideout was coming off an injury-plagued season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. The year before, he had a 1,000 yard receiving season. Belichick's thinking here was that Galloway could bounce back from an injury and be a reliable presence for Tom Brady and the offense. However, at the age of 38, Galloway simply could not cut it anymore as he played just three games and produced 67 receiving yards.
8 Jermaine Cunningham
Draft experts were surprised when the Patriots selected this linebacker out of Florida, though Belichick had been known to go after players coached by Urban Meyer, (Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Tim Tebow). Cunningham was drafted 53rd overall in the second round of the 2010 draft. He spent three seasons with the Patriots and had 3.5 sacks in 36 games. The frustrating part about watching him play was that you could see the potential he had to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player on a yearly basis. However, it never materialized and he washed out of the league in 2014 with the New York Jets.
7 Aaron Dobson
The Patriots drafted Dobson out of Marshall in the second round (59th overall) in the 2013 draft. Dobson did not drop a ball his senior year at Marshall but has struggled in his first few years with the team. He has been a healthy scratch some games and has been injured multiple times. It would be surprising if he remained on the Patriots roster going into the 2016 NFL season.
6 Duane Starks
After releasing fan favorite cornerback Ty Law in 2005, the Patriots were in dire need of a veteran cornerback to fill his shoes. The Patriots worked out a trade with the Arizona Cardinals that brought Duane Starks to New England. Starks played six games with the Patriots before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, which caused him to miss the rest of the season. Starks would go on to play for the Oakland Raiders the following season before retiring.
5 Chad Jackson
In case you haven't noticed, Belichick has really struggled developing cornerbacks and wide receivers over the years. Unfortunately, Chad Jackson was no exception. The Patriots traded up in the 2006 draft to the 36th overall pick to pick Jackson out of Florida. The team that was willing to pull the trigger on the deal was, of course, the Green Bay Packers, who drafted wide receiver Greg Jennings with the acquired pick. Through two seasons with the Patriots, Jackson would only have 152 receiving yards in 14 games.
4 Laurence Maroney
2006 was a disappointing draft for the Patriots. The team selected Maroney out of Minnesota with the 21st overall pick of the NFL Draft. Even though Maroney had a strong couple years with the Patriots, he would always be dancing in the backfield rather than hitting the hole to pick up necessary yardage. He was a nice compliment to Corey Dillon but injuries would eventually take a toll on his career and he never became the bell cow the Patriots hoped he would be.
3 Albert Haynesworth
New England has been considered a place to go for a player to resurrect their career under Belichick. Haynesworth was a player that had all the potential in the world, but failed to put it together due to conditioning and decision making off the field that would affect his level of play. The team acquired Haynesworth from the Washington Redskins for a fifth-round draft pick in 2013. He never made an impact with the Patriots as he only had two solo tackles in six games before being cut and signing with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.
2 Adalius Thomas
The Patriots made major news prior to the start of the 2007 undefeated season when they signed longtime Baltimore Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas. Thomas was a decent player who produced average results, but is a dissapointment when you consider they signed him to a five-year deal worth $35.04 million, which was the largest deal in team history at the time. He did not stay for his entire contract, as the team decided to release him in 2010.
1 Chad Ochocinco
Many of you probably could have guessed this. The Patriots were hoping that Ochocinco could provide a Randy Moss-esque impact when paired with Tom Brady. However, his inability to learn the playbook ultimately forced Brady to lose confidence in the former Pro Bowl wide receiver. In 15 games with the Patirots in 2011, Ochocinco only had 15 receptions for 276 yards and a single touchdown.
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