Bill Belichick became part of an NFL coaching staff in 1975 at age 23. He was a natural at the daily grind of the NFL, as his father was both a coach and scout. He worked with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos before landing a job with the New York Giants in 1979. In New York, Belichick was lucky to work for head coach Bill Parcells, one of the great minds in football history. Belichick learned everything he could from Parcells about scouting, drafting and a philosophy about building a team. Together with Belichick as defensive coordinator, they won two super bowls before Belichick was hired as head football coach of the Cleveland Browns.
In Cleveland, Belichick found many roadblocks. Ownership was not on board with rebuilding both the product on the field but also the front office. Fans were dismayed when Belichick cut hometown hero Bernie Kosar. When the team moved to Baltimore in 1995, Belichick found himself without a job. At this point, Parcells was eager to rehire Belichick in New England where they found immediate success heading back to the super bowl in 1996. Fast forward to 2000 and Belichick was introduced as the new head coach of the Patriots replacing recently fired Pete Carrol.
Over the previous 25 years in the NFL, Belichick knew he needed several things to build a franchise:
- He had a specific scouting system he learned from his father and Bill Parcells that had to be implemented down to the letter
- A draft system which valued each pick based on a formula
- Veteran players who could set the right culture for his locker room
- Young talented players who would work hard and follow the veteran’s lead
- Hungry, talented assistant coaches
- Young, smart people who were passionate about football with whom he could develop
Four super bowl titles and 23 playoff wins later, his system and his attention to rigorous detail has worked. I have tremendous respect for Belichick. For 16 years he has found a way to stay ahead of the other teams in the NFL and is likely to be billed the greatest coach in NFL history.
This next weekend, he will go head to head with one of those same young talented people who he developed, Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. May the best team (or overall philosophy) win.