The Bill Belichick Coaching Tree

soxhop411

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ESPN had a discussion regarding this photo prior to tonight’s lions/Jets game. And if this game is a sign of how the lions season will go, prepare for a lot of talk about how any coach who leaves the pats turns to shit. And what that means about the Pats as a whole

 

DrewDawg

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So BB owns Saban's pro record but not his college success?

Also, it means NOTHING about the Pats as a whole.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Bill Belichick’s job is to coach the New England Patriots. It is tangentially his job to help his coaches to be better coaches insofar as it will help him coach the New England Patriots. It is decidedly not important whether or not he helps his coaches learn how to be head coaches for other teams.

He also can’t teach others his maniacal attention to detail, his ability to make cold calculated decisions, to be both a coach and personnel guy, etc etc, because he did not receive these poor souls early enough in life to manipulate the entire fiber of their being. Maybe there is hope for Stephen yet.
 

Ralphwiggum

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I’m not sure why coaching tree is a thing that matters. Belichick’s job is to win games for the Patriots. He hired assistant coaches who he thinks will help him do that. Those guys are maybe not the same guys who willl make good head coaches.

On top of which at any given time there are probably only like 5 guys in the world who would qualify as “good” head coaches in the NFL.
 

luckiestman

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Mangini was fine, never had QB luck. When Favre and Penny were healthy, Jets played well.
 

taoofoj

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Just another ESPN contrivance to whip up some good ol' fashion sports debate...

Besides the laughable mischaracterization of Saban's post-BB coaching success, there is some irony in judging BB disciples based on their initial success as HCs when BB had a mediocre first run as a HC himself.

Clearly NFL owners / GMs don't subscribe to the narrative - they remain happy to give NE coordinators HC gigs. As long as NE keeps winning teams will be looking to poach the talent.
 

lexrageorge

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Saban had Culpepper at QB when he should have had Brees.

Groh had one season and decided to leave the circus for UVA. Patricia has had 1 game. Belichick endured some bad losses his first season.
 

RGREELEY33

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Doesn’t all the lack of success as head coaches by former Pat coordinators mean that the source of the Patriots success lies in B.B., not in the coordinators? As compared to someone like Parcells?
Exactly this. I have a buddy who is a diehard 49ers fan, and he likes to throw the “Belichick’s Coaches all suck as HCs” as if it is some sort of slight or point in the favor of the 49er organization. I always say to him “it is exactly what I would expect — Belichick is the genius, and everyone else is along for the ride.”

I know people love taking shots at the Patriots wherever they can, but this one is just stupid. It means the exact opposite of what they think it means.
 

ZMart100

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The point is let the Pats keep their coaches. I hope they put this graphic up every week starting week 14 through the end of the Super Bowl.
 

LondonSox

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Doesn’t all the lack of success as head coaches by former Pat coordinators mean that the source of the Patriots success lies in B.B., not in the coordinators? As compared to someone like Parcells?
This is great until it isn't though.

I think it's increasingly clear his Philosophy and organization style etc works but is really freaking hard to replicate.

That suggests a lot of risk when he retires, but sure who knows when that may be.

The guy is one if a kind.
 

Super Nomario

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The "tree" stuff is weird because how do we decide who is in a guy's tree? Crennel coached under Bill Parcells for about a decade (though also with Belichick); is he a Parcells guy or a Belichick guy? Hell, maybe that's not even the right label: Ray Perkins hired Crennel, Belichick, and Parcells. Nick Saban had a 15-year coaching career before he ever worked for Belichick, including head coach at Toledo.

On top of which at any given time there are probably only like 5 guys in the world who would qualify as “good” head coaches in the NFL.
This is statistically kind of true. Most head coaches fail; about half are fired without ever making the playoffs. I studied this for ITPylon a few years ago: https://insidethepylon.com/nfl/front-office/2016/01/12/five-lessons-on-hiring-head-coaches/

Mangini was fine, never had QB luck. When Favre and Penny were healthy, Jets played well.
I think people are discounting stuff like this way too much. Look at Belichick's track record in Cleveland. Any coach will fail with trash QBs. Romeo Crennel took the Browns to 10-6 with Derek Anderson one year; he should be inducted into their ring of honor.

And Ozzie in Baltimore.
Jason Licht in Tampa Bay, too. It's crazy how many of the league's GMs worked under BB.
 

Toe Nash

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Patricia seems to be picking up where he left off. Time will tell of course and Stafford not being able to recognize a zone defense is going to hurt any team. But as been noted time and time again, the Pats D was never very impressive under Patricia and their low points allowed was almost entirely due to the offense and ST never giving up good field position. When Brady threw the pick on Sunday I think Nantz mentioned it was the first time the Pats offense had given up possession in their own territory in some ridiculous amount of possessions. They just don't give a short field.

Many good points made above. I wonder what things would be like if every new hire was given five years or so without any threat of being fired -- so often these guys have one year of bad luck early on and they're gone, and they're usually taking over a bad team to start with so of course their career record is going to be bad. And then they have to be a coordinator for years before getting another shot because teams hire Jon Gruden instead.

I do think McDaniels is an extremely good offensive coordinator and would have had success in Denver had he remained (and if he found a non-Tebow QB). I'm excited to see what he does next (hopefully in due time). But very few coaches can do it all, so who knows.
 

SoxJox

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at any given time there are probably only like 5 guys in the world who would qualify as “good” head coaches in the NFL.
It is stunning to me how true this really is.

The point is let the Pats keep their coaches. I hope they put this graphic up every week starting week 14 through the end of the Super Bowl.
Perhaps post-Bronco Josh learned this lesson and took the smart extension in the off season, however enticing the Colts job may have seemed.
 

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One underestimated factor, I think, in the success of a new coach (any boss, really), when trying to overhaul a team/company culture is the need to bring with you from the place where you were, a few mid-level folks who can really explain and instill taht culture from the inside. Parcells always did this, and BB did it in 2000&2001 with guys like Hamilton, Smith, and Cox, among others.
 

JimD

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Doesn’t all the lack of success as head coaches by former Pat coordinators mean that the source of the Patriots success lies in B.B., not in the coordinators? As compared to someone like Parcells?
It's Belichick, in concert with a GOAT QB and an owner who was/is smart enough to step back and let him run the show (how many other owners would have let him sit Drew Bledsoe and his $100 million contract once he was healthy?).
 

normstalls

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Just like the long list of players who have left New England and who have not been nearly as good/effective...I take this as a compliment to the greatest coach in NFL history. He simply gives his personnel (players and coaches) the best opportunity to succeed and he gets the most out of each individual.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Bill Belichick’s job is to coach the New England Patriots. It is tangentially his job to help his coaches to be better coaches insofar as it will help him coach the New England Patriots. It is decidedly not important whether or not he helps his coaches learn how to be head coaches for other teams.

He also can’t teach others his maniacal attention to detail, his ability to make cold calculated decisions, to be both a coach and personnel guy, etc etc, because he did not receive these poor souls early enough in life to manipulate the entire fiber of their being. Maybe there is hope for Stephen yet.
Bingo! I hate this "coaching tree" topic from those who use it to paint the picture that Belichick is failing. This isn't his job!! His job is to make them the best positional coaches and coordinators for the Patriots. If anything it magnifies his greatness as a leader in taking (maybe) relatively marginally talented coaches and getting the most out of them under his watch.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Exactly this. I have a buddy who is a diehard 49ers fan, and he likes to throw the “Belichick’s Coaches all suck as HCs” as if it is some sort of slight or point in the favor of the 49er organization. I always say to him “it is exactly what I would expect — Belichick is the genius, and everyone else is along for the ride.”
This is what I take away every time I look at it. In addition to his unparalleled success as a head coach which we all know and remember, keep in mind there's also a good (though certainly not irrefutable) case that BB as DC made Parcells' rep---without BB he is essentially a .500 coach with no playoff success---you can look it up!. I know SN disagrees with me there and I respect other views on that, but the case is out there and credible, too.

However you land on what he made happen or didn't as an assistant, his head coaching record alone makes clear that Bill Belichick is a football genius and wholly irreplaceable.
 

NortheasternPJ

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Matt Patricia is a bust already? That was fast
When you retain Jim Bob Cooter who apparently forgot to change all of Matt Stafford's audibles that's a lack of attention to detail. You'd think a defensive coach would have spotted that in training camp.

I think Patricia will be fine, but man that's a bad sign.
 

PaulinMyrBch

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BB's record in Cleveland wouldn't have looked good as a branch on the Parcells tree if his career had stopped there. Fact is these coaches leave for open jobs and go to teams that fired a coach. The job is open for a reason. On top of that, none of the guys on Belichick's tree have had any length with a team, all in the 2-4 year range except for Romeo.

I'm sure someone could figure out WAR for football coaches taking over a team that was 4-12 for 3 years. If BB retires this year and Josh takes over and goes 10-6 next year, in my book that would be worse than Matty P going 8-8 with the Lions.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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Part of the answer here is also that most NFL coaches are going to fail. There are 5-7 new hires almost every single year. I don't think the success of Bill's coaching tree matters in any real or appreciable way, but one potential way to judge it is to look at the coaching tree of his peers. Specifically the other active NFL coaches that have had similar longevity in the league.

I did this by looking at wikipedia pages where there is a section for coaching tree. SN's point regarding how coaches can often be mapped to more than one coaching tree is a good one to consider, but for the sake of this view the names listed below are ascribed to who they were coaching under immediately before they become a head coach....

Mike McCarthy has been coaching the Packers since 2006. He has had two assistants hired as head coaches. Joe Philbin and Ben McAdoo. Fair to call both of them failures and possibly a slight against McCarthy that he has only has two assistants that the league thought enough about to elevate to head coach.

Andy Reid has been a head coach since 1999. His coaching tree is a different story. There have been some hits from Andy Reid but he also has his shares of misses. Some of these clearly could be argued that I have them in the wrong bucket, but I see it as:
Successes - John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Doug Pederson
On the fence - Todd Bowles
Too Soon - Sean McDermott, Matt Nagy
Failures - Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur

Marvin Lewis' wikipedia page does not have a coaching tree section, but I'll give him a success for Mike Zimmer and a failure for Hue Jackson

Sean Payton - Dennis Allen was a failure. Wikipedia credits him with Doug Marrone in his tree but Doug made a stop at Syracuse before coaching the Bills.

I'm running out of time so I'll stop.
I don't think I actually proved anything. But I do find it somewhat interesting that guys like McCarthy, Lewis and Payton who have been head coaches for over a decade has so few of their assistants hired as head coaches when compared to BB and Reid.
 

johnmd20

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Part of the answer here is also that most NFL coaches are going to fail. There are 5-7 new hires almost every single year. I don't think the success of Bill's coaching tree matters in any real or appreciable way, but one potential way to judge it is to look at the coaching tree of his peers. Specifically the other active NFL coaches that have had similar longevity in the league.

I did this by looking at wikipedia pages where there is a section for coaching tree. SN's point regarding how coaches can often be mapped to more than one coaching tree is a good one to consider, but for the sake of this view the names listed below are ascribed to who they were coaching under immediately before they become a head coach....

Mike McCarthy has been coaching the Packers since 2006. He has had two assistants hired as head coaches. Joe Philbin and Ben McAdoo. Fair to call both of them failures and possibly a slight against McCarthy that he has only has two assistants that the league thought enough about to elevate to head coach.

Andy Reid has been a head coach since 1999. His coaching tree is a different story. There have been some hits from Andy Reid but he also has his shares of misses. Some of these clearly could be argued that I have them in the wrong bucket, but I see it as:
Successes - John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Doug Pederson
On the fence - Todd Bowles
Too Soon - Sean McDermott, Matt Nagy
Failures - Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur

Marvin Lewis' wikipedia page does not have a coaching tree section, but I'll give him a success for Mike Zimmer and a failure for Hue Jackson

Sean Payton - Dennis Allen was a failure. Wikipedia credits him with Doug Marrone in his tree but Doug made a stop at Syracuse before coaching the Bills.

I'm running out of time so I'll stop.
I don't think I actually proved anything. But I do find it somewhat interesting that guys like McCarthy, Lewis and Payton who have been head coaches for over a decade has so few of their assistants hired as head coaches when compared to BB and Reid.
This is a really good post, but I'm hesitant to call Hue Jackson a failure. I know he's had a rough couple of years, but he does have the team off to its best start since 2004. That's patience, coaching, and leadership.
 

snowmanny

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Matt Patricia is a bust already? That was fast
You lose your opening game by 31 points you can pretty much guarantee your season is over. And your players hate you.
 

Bergs

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This is a really good post, but I'm hesitant to call Hue Jackson a failure. I know he's had a rough couple of years, but he does have the team off to its best start since 2004. That's patience, coaching, and leadership.
Outstanding.
 

Super Nomario

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Marvin Lewis' wikipedia page does not have a coaching tree section, but I'll give him a success for Mike Zimmer and a failure for Hue Jackson
Leslie Frazier also coached for Lewis. Jay Gruden was OC of Cincy right before taking the Washington job.

I'm running out of time so I'll stop.
I don't think I actually proved anything. But I do find it somewhat interesting that guys like McCarthy, Lewis and Payton who have been head coaches for over a decade has so few of their assistants hired as head coaches when compared to BB and Reid.
I think this is interesting perspective. Because of his accomplishments, Belichick gets compared to guys like Walsh and Parcells who have had more fruitful trees, but it's not really fair because time is such a huge component. A decade on from now, Brian Flores and Jerry Schlupinski might be successful head coaches, or McDaniels might have had more success on his second go-round.

It's not really surprising that even guys with long track records like Lewis, McCarthy, and Payton don't have a lot of proteges. The Saints have had the same OC since 2009 so there haven't been a ton of guys cycling through there. They had Gregg Williams as DC for a while, who was already a failed head coach. McCarthy had Dom Capers as his DC for a long time, another failed HC. It will take years to see how those trees shake out.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Part of the answer here is also that most NFL coaches are going to fail. There are 5-7 new hires almost every single year. I don't think the success of Bill's coaching tree matters in any real or appreciable way, but one potential way to judge it is to look at the coaching tree of his peers. Specifically the other active NFL coaches that have had similar longevity in the league.

I did this by looking at wikipedia pages where there is a section for coaching tree. SN's point regarding how coaches can often be mapped to more than one coaching tree is a good one to consider, but for the sake of this view the names listed below are ascribed to who they were coaching under immediately before they become a head coach....

Mike McCarthy has been coaching the Packers since 2006. He has had two assistants hired as head coaches. Joe Philbin and Ben McAdoo. Fair to call both of them failures and possibly a slight against McCarthy that he has only has two assistants that the league thought enough about to elevate to head coach.

Andy Reid has been a head coach since 1999. His coaching tree is a different story. There have been some hits from Andy Reid but he also has his shares of misses. Some of these clearly could be argued that I have them in the wrong bucket, but I see it as:
Successes - John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Doug Pederson
On the fence - Todd Bowles
Too Soon - Sean McDermott, Matt Nagy
Failures - Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur

Marvin Lewis' wikipedia page does not have a coaching tree section, but I'll give him a success for Mike Zimmer and a failure for Hue Jackson

Sean Payton - Dennis Allen was a failure. Wikipedia credits him with Doug Marrone in his tree but Doug made a stop at Syracuse before coaching the Bills.

I'm running out of time so I'll stop.
I don't think I actually proved anything. But I do find it somewhat interesting that guys like McCarthy, Lewis and Payton who have been head coaches for over a decade has so few of their assistants hired as head coaches when compared to BB and Reid.
I don't think BB currently has any peers, but even if you want to go solely off longevity, apathy by the decision makers in GB and CIN are the only reason those two coaches are still in their jobs for so long, (with an assist from Rodgers on McCarthy) I'm not sure offers much. Payton, that's an odd track record, but I think he's overrated as well.

The only time we're going to see these "coaching trees" brought up is to either laud or denigrate an elite guy. A Walsh, Parcells, BB, etc. And yeah, they're all dumb.
 

SoxinSeattle

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I started Michael Lombardi's book Gridiron Genius last night and he goes into detail why coaches who leave don't have the same success. It's pretty simple. Just because you have the recipe doesn't mean your as good a cook. The book is excellent so far BTW.
 
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Papelbon's Poutine

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Good God, the melodrama. I'm not even a Patricia apologist - I never thought he was all that great of a DC - but the amount of shit I've heard or read about this is asinine. It's one goddam week. When does Tom Jackson weigh in on the status of the locker room?
 

Toe Nash

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Someone to keep an eye on re: this topic is Mike Vrabel, who is now the coach of the Titans and has a fairly solid team. Would he be considered part of the Belichick tree? I suppose since he also coached under O'Brien, even if you ignore his time as a player under BB.
 

tims4wins

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Someone to keep an eye on re: this topic is Mike Vrabel, who is now the coach of the Titans and has a fairly solid team. Would he be considered part of the Belichick tree? I suppose since he also coached under O'Brien, even if you ignore his time as a player under BB.
Maybe, but I don’t have a good feeling about him being a successful HC. At least not right now. Smart guy and all, but not enough experience.
 

Super Nomario

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One thing I thought about the other day: Belichick's assistants see how he runs things day-to-day, but few of them have been here long enough to see how he established the culture in the first place. Bill O'Brien's first year with the Patriots was 2007, three championships in. Patricia joined just in time for the third SB win in 2004. And arguably, Belichick didn't really have to build the culture from scratch, since a lot of the key defensive pieces had already worked under Parcells (and Belichick in '96). Most head coaching gigs are very different challenges compared to maintaining what the Patriots already have in place.