Why has Bill Belichick’s coaching tree as been so barren?

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Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England P...
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As I predicted months ago, Bronco Owner Bowlen fired HC Josh McDaniels this week. This is what I said on this site on March 17, 2009:

The key story is that Bowlen blew it when he fired Mike Shanahan and blew it again in hiring the 32 year old McDaniels. McDaniels is not mature enough to be a head coach in the NFL. It was a bad hire and this is only the first screwup for which McD will be responsible.

That was written before the Broncos went 6-0 to start the 09 season. That start was followed by a 2-8 record to end 09 and a 3-9 start to the 2010 schedule.

It was obvious to me that McD was not nearly ready for the head job. But that is only the latest example of the failures of the Belichick disciples. Here is the major list of NFL head coaches that have come from the Belichick system:

Josh McDaniels – Fired after less than 2 years

Eric Mangini Browns (2009-?) – Was so bad at judging talent that he lost his GM control after a year and now is on the hot seat again.

Romeo Crennel Browns (2005-2008) – You would have thought that after the Crennel disaster the Browns owner would have had more sense than to hire another Beilchick clone.

Al Groh, New York Jets (2000) – Groh was lucky to survive a year.

Nick Saban, Miami Dolphins (2005–2006) – A much better college coach than pro.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions (2009–?) – Schwartz is on the hot seat and will probably go after the season.

Something that should be noted is that after going 36-44 as HC of the Browns, it took Belichick 4 seasons to be named HC of the Patriots. That team was in such disarray that they were looking for someone with some experience that would actually take the job.

The question becomes why does one of the most successful coaches in the history of the league have such a meager coaching tree?

There are a couple of major reasons. The greatest is “Belichick attitude.” The Belichick clones come in with the Hoodie Attitude. That is an attitude of secrecy and take a dictatorial control over the locker room and the players. They are unwilling (or unable) to accept others ideas or adjust their “system” to the current talent available.

That may work with 18-20 year old boys but very quickly loses an NFL locker room filled with veteran players. They will not put up with being treated like children. The attitude only works if you have 5 Super Bowl rings as head coach.

One result of the attitude is the desire by the clone to dump talented veterans that refuse to buy into the system. Both McDaniels and Mangini have done that recently. The result is a steep decline in talent on the roster and generates losses. The NFL stands for Not For Long if you don’t win.

The attitude of “do it my way or else” also inhibits making half time adjustments. Because they are convinced that their system is perfect, they will continue to do the things that have not worked in the second half. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity.

When a clone is questioned by the media or the ownership, they tend to stand firm and refuse to make changes. That tends to irritate the owners and hasten the firing.

Another reason is the lack of preparation. Belichick is by nature a control freak. He is not willing to take the time to teach his underlings. He dictates the game plan and they are only a middle man between him and the team to execute it. The assistants don’t participate in the formulation of the plan or even the research of the opponent upon which it is based. Because they are not involved, they do not learn the reasons behind the strategy.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,Patriots,Belichick,McDaniels,Saban,Mangini,Belichick coaching tree,Broncos,2011 Draft,Browns,Jets,Dolphins,coaching change
  • “Bill Belichick Empathizes With Josh McDaniels, Other Fired Coaches” and related posts (nesn.com)
  • Leading Off: Under the Hoodie, the Patriots Hum (nytimes.com)
  • No shock: Lightning rod Belichick better than ever (cbssports.com)
  • You: Josh McDaniels Fired: Where Will Wonder Boy Coach in 2011? (bleacherreport.com)
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One Response to “Why has Bill Belichick’s coaching tree as been so barren?”


  1. Cables and Adapters UK
    on Dec 10th, 2010
    @ 5:54 am

    At 32yrs he has got to be V young for the position.

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