Dallas travels to Seattle Sunday afternoon in the game of the week in the NFL for Week 3.
It’s 4am. The alarm rings. Another 20-hour day beckons. Arguably the smartest football mind is waking up, ready to plan and dismantle the next opponent. Bring it.
The sleeveless hoodie, expressionless face and grey lead pencil tucked behind are synonymous with the man that is Bill Belichick. When asked about his now famous sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off at different lengths, Belichick told WEEI radio in 2012 “in all honesty I really don’t pay that much attention to it…People ask me after the game ‘why did you wear the blue one, why did you wear the grey one?’ I just put on whatever is there”.
That’s typical Belichick, a man of few words who gives very little information.
So, why is Belichick so good and how did he get started in football? Former New York Giants head coach, Bill Parcells, recently told ESPN, “Belichick lived this game his whole life. Growing up with football in your life, that experience as a young man at the dinner table, is invaluable. He was educated to the nuances of the sport at a very young age. By the time he got his first job, he already had experience just from living it with his dad. I think that’s where the foundation was.”
Belichick started his career as a gofer for the Baltimore Colts in 1975 and quickly worked his way up the ranks. He was the defensive coaching mastermind at the New York Giants during the late 1980s guiding his defence to two Super Bowl wins. Success follows Belichick, who later won four Super Bowls with the New England Patriots as head coach.
Belichick’s coaching record including playoffs is a staggering 251 wins and 124 losses. Only Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys and Don Shula from the Miami Dolphins had more wins than Belichick.
In 1997 Belichick was assistant head coach of the New England Patriots and left to follow his mentor Bill Parcels to join the New York Jets. After a short few seasons Parcells announced his retirement leaving the door open for Belichick who was the obvious replacement. But in a shock decision Belichick turned down the Jets head coaching job after spending just one day in the role.
Instead, he opted to accept the New England Patriots head coaching position at the start of the 2000 season. He loved the owner, Robert Kraft, and believed they were building something special.
He was right. The Pats found themselves winning a Super Bowl in Belichick’s second season as head coach. He builds teams that centre around schemes, playbooks and game plans. His players are merely chess pieces; he manipulates each piece according to their strengths and weaknesses. His coaching philosophy is simple: attack and expose the weaknesses of the opposition.
Belichick embarked on the 2016 season without suspended veteran quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was serving his four game suspension for the now infamous Deflategate saga. Belichick started the season off with a 3-1 record without Brady. Many experts were predicting the Patriots would be lucky to win two of their first four games without their superstar quarterback. But Belichick was unphased.
Back-up Jimi Garoppolo started and looked like a veteran – a pocket passer, making smart reads and hitting open receivers. Garoppolo suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during the Week 2 game against the Miami Dolphins which opened the door for their third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett is a completely different quarterback to both Brady and Garoppolo. He is a run and spread quarterback with a completely different skill set. He is also a rookie, drafted in the third round using pick 91. The result was the same, Belichick made Brissett look like a third or four-year veteran, not a novice rookie. Moving those chess pieces, baby!
Belichick is so savvy that he could turn a struggling Johnny Manziel into a starting quarterback. He is the brains behind the plays. Which leads me to my next thought: is Tom Brady a system quarterback? Before you choke on your coffee, let’s delve a little deeper.
Matt Cassell has spent his whole career as a back-up quarterback. The next-man-up mantra was invented in New England, so when Brady injured his ACL in Week 1 of the 2008 season, Belichick turned to then-backup quarterback, Cassel, and turned him into an elite quarterback. Cassel’s stats were truly remarkable. He threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
Belichick has a knack of turning low draft picks into bonafide super stars. Does the name Malcom Butler ring a bell to anyone? He was the undrafted free agent that literally won Super Bowl XLIX for Belichick and the New England Patriots with his game-winning interception. Not only did
Belichick believe in Butler, he turned him into a Pro Bowler and prepared him for that life-changing play. Butler told PFT.com, “I was at practice, and the scout team ran the same exact play,” he recalled. “And I got beat on it at practice because I gave ground. … Bill Belichick, he came and said to me, ‘Malcolm, you’ve gotta be on that.’” Butler was prepared, intercepting Russell Wilson and giving Bill Belichick his fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Great teams are built on a solid foundation that we call the four pillars of success. You have to have a stable owner (Robert Kraft), general manager (Bill Belichick), head coach (Bill Belichick) and quarterback (Tom Brady). Without these four essential parts, your team will never achieve the ultimate success.
We, the fans, are fortunate to watch Belichick’s career unfold in front of our eyes. He will go down as possibly the greatest coach the game has ever seen. Michael Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver, lit up the Twitter world when he tweeted a photo of himself sitting on the couch holding his three winning Super Bowl trophies saying “if Patriots beat Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football with their third quarterback I will take off Lombardi and call these the Belichick Trophy”.
Not only did the Patriots beat the Houston Texans with their third string quarterback, they shut them out 27-0. Enough said!