NFL

Is the Next Bill Belichick Already on the New England Patriots?

Most people won’t argue with you if you say Bill Belichick is the best coach in NFL history. His track record, including six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots, speaks for itself. But the 67-year-old can’t coach forever.

With that in mind, the Patriots should think about a succession plan. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has long been considered Belichick’s heir apparent in New England, but someone else on the Patriots’ coaching staff may be the next Bill Belichick.

Bill Belichick’s legacy

After a disappointing five-year stint as the Browns‘ head coach from 1991-95, Belichick got a second chance when the Patriots hired him to the same position in 2000.

The team was 5-11 in his first season in New England, but things turned around in 2001 when the Patriots went 11-5. They haven’t looked back since. That season, Tom Brady became the team’s starting quarterback.

Belichick has led the team to 19 straight winning seasons, including a 16-0 mark in 2007, and 17 AFC East titles since then, with an 18th likely this season. In all, the Patriots are 235-82 in the regular season under Belichick, and the team has won six Super Bowls under his leadership.

Belichick’s future

Belichick is notoriously difficult to get much information out of in interviews, so he hasn’t discussed his future much. But people who follow the NFL know his days with the Patriots are probably coming to an end sooner than later.

There are questions about how much longer Brady will stay with the team. Plus, the AFC competition is getting tougher. Couple that with the fact that Belichick’s legacy is already cemented as the best coach in NFL history, and it is easy to envision Belichick retiring within the next couple of years.

Many people believe Belichick and Brady are a package deal and if Brady leaves the Patriots, Belichick will too. Whenever Belichick does decide to exit the franchise, the coach who proceeds him will have huge shoes to fill.

The next Belichick in New England?

The question becomes who will replace Belichick when he hangs up his Patriots hoodie. McDaniels, who spent two years as the head coach of the Chiefs, is an obvious candidate. But the Patriots can replace one Belichick with another.

The head coach has two sons on the coaching staff, one of whom appears to be a carbon copy of his dad. Patriots safeties coach Steve Belichick not only sounds like Bill, but he similarly isn’t willing to give up any game planning information when asked strategy questions by the press.

Steve did, however, regale the reporters with anecdotes about watching film with his father when he was a kid in Cleveland — offering up the type of story that the older Belichick rarely tells the press.

Steve attended Rutgers, where he was a walk-on with the football team as a long snapper, solely hoping to prepare for a coaching career. He was a three-year starter at linebacker, tight end, and fullback in high school before that.

Although he’s in his eighth season on his father’s coaching staff with the Patriots, he lack of experience as a coordinator could hurt his chances to become the head coach when his father retires — especially with McDaniels lurking on the offensive side and having head coaching experience in Kansas City.