While Bill Belichick may be an incredibly successful coach, he doesn’t like to share. As any NFL fan can tell you, the Patriots’ boss isn’t a fan of press conferences; barring a few notable exceptions, he’s interested in winning games, not talking to reporters. Recently, however, we were able to gain an insight into the head coach’s championship mindset.
On Twitter, a former NFL scout shared Bill Belichick’s old plans to build a winning team. While the documents are nearly 30 years old, they still provide a glimpse into the mind of one of football’s greatest coaches.
Bill Belichick’s NFL coaching career
Like many future pros, Bill Belichick was exposed to football from an early age. His father was an assistant on the US Naval Academy football staff, giving the future Patriots coach a taste of what it takes to succeed at a high level.
Belichick played football in college but started his coaching career soon after graduation. In 1975, he got his foot in the door as a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts. After one season, he left the team, spending time with the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos before taking a job the New York Giants. Working with Big Blue, Belichick finally had a chance to truly make a name for himself.
Belichick came to New York as a special teams coach and defensive assistant but quickly earned a promotion. By 1980, he was working with the Giants’ linebackers; five years later, he was calling the shots as defensive coordinator. Teaming up with Lawrence Taylor, Belichick’s unit helped the Giants win two Super Bowls, defeating the Denver Broncos in 1986 and upsetting the Buffalo Bills four years later.
On the back of that success in the Big Apple, Belichick earned his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. After five unremarkable seasons, however, he took a step back, accepting assistant coaching roles with the Patriots and Jets. In 2000, though, he returned to New England as the head coach; the franchise ascended to the top of the NFL heap and still hasn’t looked back.
How to build an NFL champion
While NFL gameplans rarely see the light of day, football fans recently got a glimpse into Bill Belichick’s mind. Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout and current analyst, shared one of the coach’s old handouts.
The documents, which are dated from February 1991, detail how Belichick believed you could build a championship team. While his overall message was summed up as the “organization must be aggressive on all fronts,” he broke down his requirements for each offensive position.
On the offensive line, for example, Belichick explained that the team could “use a slightly dumber guy who is a good athlete;” as long as they were “big, tough, physical, nasty, and smart,” they could play for his team. He wanted a tight end who could catch the ball and make plays, rather than simply blocking, and said a quarterback’s top trait needed to be decision making, followed by “arm, size, [physical toughness], leadership, [being someone who] guys look up to and have confidence in, [and being] a real competitor.”
While there are plenty of gems in the document, Belichick then sums up his keys to offensive success. The unit has to be able to “run the ball, pick up the blitz, pick up 3rd downs, [and ultimately] score.” It’s hard to argue with that.
It’s safe to say that Bill Belichick followed his own gameplan
While the plan in question may have come from Bill Belichick’s time with the Cleveland Browns, that shouldn’t make it any less impressive. If anything, it shows that the head coach’s convictions existed before he took over the Patriots.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see plenty of instances when he followed his own advice. While Rob Gronkowski was a great blocker, no one would accuse him of being an extra offensive lineman; his career was shortened by injury, but he was still one of the most dynamic players to take the position. Similarly, Tom Brady was never the best athlete, but fit Belichick’s description of a starting quarterback perfectly.
In the NFL, it’s tough to win one Super Bowl title, let alone six with a single franchise. Bill Belichick, however, wrote a championship game plan and followed through. That’s the mark of true greatness.