Bill Belichick's critics have waited two decades for this.
The legendary coach's naysayers -- including polarizing Fox Sports analyst Skip Bayless -- are pouncing after the Tampa Bay Bucs, led by Tom Brady, punched their ticket to a conference title game, while Belichick's Patriots have been on the golf course for several weeks.
Bayless, co-host of Fox Sports 1's "The Undisputed" alongside Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, said on Monday's installment of the show that Belichick's flaws as a "team-builder" have been "exposed" by his response to Brady's departure.
"Bill Belichick, as he neared 70 years of age, said 'I want a shot to show everybody I was the reason. I want the ability, I have earned the right, to show the world that I will quickly turn this around into another Super Bowl team, without that guy, who is getting way too much of the credit for my tastes.'
"And yet it was up to Robert Kraft to referee and to pick a side. And for years he picked Tom's side, until the bitter end, when he had it on the platter for Tom to play another 2-3 more years, and call it a day, career, and a dynasty in New England -- which is the way it should have been. But Kraft said, 'No, at this point I've got to side with my coach. He and his coaching staff are whispering to me, He's about to done. He's losing it. He's beginning to show diminished skills.'"
Kraft appeared to support Brady's plan to play until he was 45, Sharpe said -- but Belichick never seemed to be on board.
"He went with the coach over [Brady]," Sharpe said. "The better question is, what is Mr. Kraft feeling? Because you know Coach Belichick don't give a damn."
"Robert Kraft has to be shaking his head, quietly," Bayless replied. "He'll never say so publicly -- and saying, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' Because, I promise you today, you're going to see a whole lot more No. 12 Buccaneers jerseys popping up in and around Boston."
Sharpe then questioned whether the Patriots were really in a salary cap bind, one of the reasons given for allowing Brady to walk.
"Tom wasn't even a top-10 quarterback as far as money made," Sharpe said. "So how are y'all pressed against the cap? I understand you just kicked the can down the road, but there was nothing in the can to begin with."
"Tom Brady just took $20M to take a team to the NFC Championship that was 7-9 a year ago," Bayless said. "So, to me, Bill Belichick is once again getting exposed not only as a coach, but as a team-builder. Much more as a team-builder than a coach. Because, at moments this year, I thought his defense was pretty good. At moments, they got a lot out of Cam, but not enough to the point that Cam is going to be back."
Bayless, 69, joined FS1 several years ago after a long run with ESPN. He previously worked for a slew of national newspapers. The controversial talking head was admonished by his employers last year for insensitive remarks about Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's battle with anxiety and depression.