“Hands down, I feel like [New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick] is the best head coach to ever coach this game,” said Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount after last night’s surprising but not so surprising 27-0 thrashing of the Houston Texans. Blount had a fine night at the office, taking 24 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. But the man of the night, and most often every night the Patriots play, was Bill Belichick.
It’s just not supposed to be that easy. It’s not for any other team in the league. When starting quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension was announced most New England fans were hoping to go 2-2 and figured once Brady returns they’ll be in a good spot to move forward with the year. And that was assuming Jimmy Garoppolo would start all four games. But today, the Patriots sit at 3-0 with a game against the imploding Buffalo Bills 10 days away.
With Garoppolo out following a shoulder injury last Sunday, Thursday night’s starting quarterback was rookie Jacoby Brissett, who was drafted in the third round last April. He did just fine for what they asked of him with his biggest contribution being his 27 yard touchdown run. Otherwise, he took care of the ball and leaned on the run game, defense and special teams. However, it’s been reported today that he suffered an injury to his thumb on his throwing hand. He doesn’t require surgery but is iffy for next Sunday’s game vs the Bills.
Nevertheless, it really doesn’t matter all that much. If they need to sign another quarterback off the scrap heap and start him to win the game they will. They could even start wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was a quarterback in college, it might not even matter. Belichick is the ultimate equalizer. He’s won four Super Bowls since taking over as head coach for New England and been to two others. With 12 division titles over the past 13 seasons, his Patriots are about as much of a lock to win the division annually as any team really can be. People often attribute the Patriots success to Brady. However, after this year’s start it’s fair to wonder if that’s really it.
Brady is one of the best quarterbacks ever. A surefire Hall of Famer, he will finish in the top five of all the major passing categories along with at least two NFL MVP awards, three Super Bowl MVPs, and four Super Bowl victories. And there could be more. He has all of the accolades. Nobody can ever take that away from him.
However, there’s certainly something to be said about Belichick in that conversation. Brady has always benefited from the fact that he was just about always on the more well-prepared team, a team that always had a superior gameplan, a team that executed better, a team that didn’t make any mistakes and wasn’t going to beat themselves. Little of that is attributed to Brady. Most of it is due to Belichick.
Belichick has always had a knack for maximizing most players’ talents. He doesn’t ask for more out of players than what they can provide. And he puts his players in the best possible position to succeed. The reality is he can beat you with his guys, switch teams than beat you with your own guys. That’s the brilliance of him.
He certainly has his detractors as well. Usually on the tip of everyone’s tongue is to call him a cheater. And they aren’t necessarily wrong. The Patriots have been caught cheating numerous times to varying degrees. These instances even have fun nicknames by which they’re referred to by, Spygate, Ballghazi. It’s fair to say Belichick has operated in the gray area of the NFL’s rulebook at times. He’s also not the best drafter out there. He’s drafted a few quality players but has regularly spent early round picks on guys that didn’t pan out.
He’s also a guy who doesn’t just grant jobs to people as well. And that’s also maybe a reason his early round picks haven’t panned out as well either. Most first round picks get a long leash. There’s no such leash with Belichick. Just this offseason he pulled the plug on their 2014 first rounder Dominique Easley, who ended both of his seasons with New England on injured reserve.
It’s the Belichick way really. Nothing is given, everything is earned. And in that seems to be his brilliance. He’s never satisfied, as perfectionists rarely are. With each victory, he finds weaknesses that need to be strengthened. Belichick finds holes in his teams that he would probably exploit had he been on the other sideline. He finds holes in your team that nobody else saw. He’s just flat out better than you. You know it and so does he. And perhaps that’s why he’s so vilified. Not that it matters to him anyway. He’s not here for your approval. He’s just here to dominate. And dominate he does, with or without his top players. It’s the Belichick way.