With the New England Patriots’ 2023 NFL season winding down, and the team already eliminated from the playoffs, there are two big questions facing their future. One has to do with the quarterback position, as Mac Jones — the team’s first round pick in 2021 — as been benched in favor of Bailey Zappe.

The other? The status of Bill Belichick.

One of the game’s greatest coaches and defensive minds, Belichick has delivered six Super Bowl titles to Foxborough. But with the team sitting at 3-10, and having missed out on the playoffs now in a second-straight season, Belichick’s future with the organization was growing cloudier by the day.

Now, according to at least one report, the team and the coach are set to part ways at the end of the season. According to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, the decision was made by owner Robert Kraft after an embarrassing loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany, a loss that highlighted subpar play at the quarterback position. Here’s Curran’s full report:

In Germany Jones and the New England offense were in position for a go-ahead touchdown late, but that’s when the third-year passer did this:

Jones was benched in favor of Zappe for New England’s final possession, which also resulted in an interception.

According to Curran, this loss was the final straw, in Kraft’s mind.

“When they came out of [the 10-6 loss to the Colts on Nov. 12 in] Germany, conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made,” said Curran on Monday. “They were going to play out the string, and at the end of the year, there would be a parting of the ways for a variety of reasons.”

Curran also noted that the team’s recent win in primetime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Zappe at the helm, was simply a matter of too little, too late.

“It had gone too far,” he explained. “The Germany game. The Commanders game. The Saints game. All huge, marquee games. And then there was the Chargers game after that.

“Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in primetime, I don’t think it quells anything.”

The ultimate tension might be between Kraft, and Belichick the general manager. While Belichick as a coach remains one of the game’s best, the roster decisions from Belichick the GM the past few years have made life tougher on his head coach self.

Take, for example, their 2019 draft class. They drafted N’Keal Harry at the end of the first round, and cornerback JoeJuan Williams in the second. But none of their selections from that year are still with the team.

Then there is the selection of Jones, 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

When you miss on an entire draft class — as they did in 2019 — and then miss on a quarterback two years later, it is going to set you back. Perhaps Kraft asks Belichick to give up GM duties, and maybe he agrees.

And maybe he does not.

Of course, nothing is final until we hear from ownership, and Belichick has a year left on the contract extension he signed last offseason. This could be the start of a negotiating ploy, perhaps with New England looking to ultimately deal Belichick to another organization.

Still, this adds more fuel to the fire that is the Patriots’ 2023 season.

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By David

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