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Former Chargers star believes 2023 season will be Bill Belichick’s last with Patriots

The New England Patriots continue to hit new lows each week. 

On Sunday, the Patriots were shutout 6-0 by the Los Angeles Chargers and handed their fifth straight loss of the season behind quarterback Bailey Zappe, who was sacked five times in front of an uncharacteristically thinning home crowd.

Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers moves on the field during the game against the San Francisco 49ers on August 30, 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

With the worst record in the AFC, speculation about New England’s plans for the draft and for the head coaching position continues to circulate.

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But to former Chargers star Shawne Merriman, the decline isn’t at all surprising. It will, however, take some time before things can be turned around.

“No, not at all,” the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker said Monday during an appearance on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” when asked if the Patriots’ decline shocked him.

“You’ve got that three to five year window to go out and possibly get a ring when you got a great team.”

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“Guess what? The Patriots had two decades of a great quarterback, a great system, and there’s an unlimited amount of times within those two decades to get a ring. After that, there’s a rebuilding era for every team – for all 32 teams when you have that three to five-year period, there’s a rebuilding phase.” 

Shawne Merriman at the 2019 NFL draft

Former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman announces the 60th pick during the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 26, 2019, at the Draft Main Stage on Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, TN. (Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Patriots, after winning six Super Bowl titles with Tom Brady under center, have been in decline since the future Hall of Famer’s departure for Tampa Bay. Mac Jones’ lack of progress and coaching staff turnovers within Belichick’s system have caused a once great dynasty to completely undo itself.

“We’re seeing the Patriots at the bottom because they spent two decades winning, putting themselves in a good position,” Merriman continued.

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“So who knows what’s it gonna take for them to get back in the mix, but if it takes a couple of years for a team with a three to five-year window to get back on track, how long do you think it’s going to take the Patriots to get back on track?”

“I’m guessing it’s going to be another three to five years before we see a really good Patriots team again, and Bill Belichick won’t be there for it.”

Since Brady left, the Patriots are 27-36, including a playoff loss. They are last in scoring and entered the week 25th in total yards. Just last season, they were 17th in scoring and 26th in yards.

Bill Belichick walks off the field

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks off the field after losing to the Los Angeles Chargers 6-0 at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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Merriman said he believes this will be Belichick’s last season on the sidelines for New England, and he said he believes the lack of attendance before kickoff against the Chargers on Sunday could be the biggest indicator of that. 

“If you’re not winning games, and the fans who have been there for 20-plus years, been attending those games, and you had a packed house for 20-plus years – if they stop coming, if they stop supporting you, Mr. [Robert] Kraft is going to be in a situation where he has to make a decision. That only decision is to move on from Bill Belichick.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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