Belichick Seals Legacy

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

Tom Brady was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIX last Sunday, but he wasn’t the most valuable Patriot in the game. That honor goes to Bill Belichick.

During his 15-year reign as head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick has compiled a 175–65 record in the regular season, 21 playoff wins, six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl wins, with the latest coming in a thrilling 28–24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Though Belichick is the most revered coach in the NFL today, Brady often gets the majority of the credit for the Patriots’ success. However, without Belichick’s guiding hand, there’s no way Brady would have had near the success he’s had.

There are a fair share of talented quarterbacks around the league, but what separates the Pats from those teams is a coach who is likely the best game planner and team builder in the game today.

No matter the measure, Belichick has been the NFL’s best coach since taking control of the team in 2000. The league’s longest tenured coach, Belichick has been incredibly consistent, failing to win over 10 games in a season just twice, with one of those seasons coming in his first year as the Pats’ head coach. Even in 2008, when Tom Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the season, Belichick still coached his team to 11 wins. That only two other coaches in the league today have even been with their current team for 10 years is a strong testament to Belichick’s staying power.

Making Belichick’s success even more impressive is the fact that he not only acts as the Patriots’ head coach, but also as the team’s general manager.

Though he has struggled to find outside receivers through the draft, the Pats’ headman has excelled just about everywhere else, routinely wheeling and dealing to pick up extra early-round picks and trading his lower-round picks for proven talent. Since 2009, the Patriots have made an amazing 14 second-round picks while still making five first-round picks, turning those selections into key contributors like stud tight end Rob Gronkowski, starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, star safety Devin McCourty, starting left tackle Nate Solder and up-and-coming linebacker Jamie Collins. For a team that picks in the bottom half of the first round every year, that’s an incredible number of big-time players.

Belichick has a penchant for dealing later-round picks for proven talent as well. Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, LeGarrette Blount and Akeem Ayers were all acquired for pennies on the dollar, and all have been major contributors for successful Patriots teams over the last eight years.

In a season where Belichick’s post-loss “We’re on to Cincinnati” response was replayed countless times, his team adopted the mantra and kept its eyes on the ultimate prize. That’s what makes Belichick’s teams so consistently great — they never let outside distractions bother them. From last week’s so-called Deflategate to taking chances on Moss, Talib and Blount despite their checkered pasts, Belichick has proven time and time again that his team’s effort never wavers in the face of adversity.

Only adding to Belichick’s case for being the main reason for the Patriots’ success is his coordinators’ lack of success after leaving the team. Former offensive coordinators Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini have all struggled after leaving their former boss. All four are talented football minds, but it’s no surprise that their best work came under the guidance of Belichick.

As much credit as Belichick deserves, a lot also has to go to Brady and longtime Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft, by most accounts, is one of the best owners in the game and has had the wherewithal to both let Belichick assume complete control of the team and spend money to keep the team’s best players under contract. Brady, meanwhile, is easily one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

Still, Belichick is the ultimate difference-maker for the Patriots. Rex Ryan, long a sworn enemy and rival coach of Belichick, put it best when he said, “The guy is an amazing coach. Best coach in football; it’s not even close. That’s a guy I will study.”

Bill Belichick possesses the iciest demeanor of any coach in the NFL and cares little about appearances or rubbing people the wrong way. Instead, he is the most calculating, rational and knowledgeable coach in the league and the most important part of the NFL’s longest-running dynasty.