Bill Belichick is regarded by casual football fans as one of the greatest defensive minds in NFL history.
But over the past 25 years or so, Belichick has become so much more than that. The Hooded One has his hand in his team’s offense just as much as the defense – and for the past 10 years or so in New England the offense has been the team’s calling card much more than the D.
Belichick, first and foremost, has helped Tom Brady greatly in his evolution as a quarterback. Brady spent the early portion of his Patriots career as a “dink-and-dunk” QB, then went all bombs-away in 2007 with Randy Moss, and now he’s a perfect blend all things quarterbacking.
Brady’s offensive coordinators have all helped in this evolution, but Belichick himself has been the consistent voice in Brady’s ear over the years.
Brady’s most conservative years as a QB came under the guidance of former OC Charlie Weis from 2000-2004. His aforementioned 2007 year (50 touchdowns, just 8 interceptions) and his recent success has come under the offensive leadership of Josh McDaniels. The Pats never won a Super Bowl with Bill O’Brien calling plays, but O’Brien was the default OC in 2010 when Brady won his second MVP and had his most efficient season statistically (36 TD passes and an incredible 4 interceptions all season).
For years, all offensive plays are run through Belichick, and Belichick has a weekly one-on-one meeting with Brady in his office to discuss the upcoming opponent. At this point in his career, Belichick is just as much a genius offensive mind as he is a defensive guru.
Can BB beat the Birds?
In the upcoming Super Bowl against the Eagles, Belichick will face off against Philly defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz – who was on his staff in Cleveland way back when.
It’s difficult to say if that will be an advantage for Belichick, who has an average record (for him) against former assistants. Belichick is “just” 13-8 against former staffers as head coaches.
When Schwartz was head coach of the Detroit Lions, Belichick’s Pats only faced him once - in a 2010 Thanksgiving Day game. It was an impressive victory for the Pats as they rolled, 45-24, and in it Brady had one of his most efficient days ever, going 21-of-24 for 341 yards with four touchdowns and zero picks.
Schwartz also served as the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator from 2001-08, and as the Buffalo Bills’ DC in 2014. In games in which Schwartz served as either head coach or DC, Belichick is 4-2 (one of the losses came in a Week 17 game in which the Pats sat Brady for the second half).
That history against Schwartz teams is good for the Pats, but Belichick will need one of his all-time game plans to silence the Eagles, who seemingly do everything well. The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi, who also has served on Belichick’s staff in the past, believes the Eagles have the right formula to dethrone Belichick and the Pats.
“I’m gonna pick Philadelphia to win the Super Bowl,” Lombardi said on his GM Street podcast. “I think it’s a horrendous matchup for New England (with the Eagles’ front four on defense). What Jacksonville did in the first half (on offense) was run a Kansas City style of offense – spread the field, force you to play inside with power, and then attack the edges – that’s been the kryptonite for New England … and that’s what Philly does all the time.”
It won’t be easy, but if any football mind can solve the Eagles riddle this season – it’s Belichick.