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Finding Belichick

How do you find a Hall-of-Famer?

If you are looking for a Hall-of-Fame head coach, QC's advice is to look to see if teams got better after a candidate arrived as either a head coach or coordinator. In addition, if the candidate is working as a coordinator for a "well-regarded" head coach, compare the well-regarded head coach's results with the assistance of the coordinator and his results without the coordinator's assistance. Finally, look for diverse influences in the candidate's background.

Bill Belichick checks all the boxes.

As TABLE 1 below shows, teams immediately got better designed and stayed better designed when Belichick arrived. In Cleveland, the Browns were 5.74% worse designed than opponents and -14 TO in 1990. In 1991, Belchick's first year in Cleveland, the Browns were 1.22% better designed than opponents and +15 TO. Likewise, when Belichick became the DC of New England in 1996 and the NY Jets in 1997, those teams' design and turnover differentials immediately improved by 6.31% and +14 TO and 4.55% and +23 TO, respectively.

Well, you say, Belichick was working for Hall-of-Famer Bill Parcells during those stints with the Patriots and Jets. Shouldn't "The Tuna" get the credit for that growth. Coaching is a collaborative activity. But Parcells record with Belichick's assistance was considerably better with Belichick's assistance than his record when he did not have Belichick's help. With Belichick, Parcells was 117-73-1 (.616) during the regular season and 11-5 in the post-season, including two Super Bowl Championships (1986 NY Giants and 1990 NY Giants), an AFC Champion (1996 Patriots), and an AFC runner-up (1997 NY Jets). Without Belichick, Parcelss was 55-57 (.491) and 0-3 in the playoffs, including a head-to-head loss to Belichick's Browns in a 1994 AFC Wild-Card Game. Yes, this is correct: HOFer Bill Parcells never won a playoff game without the assisance of Belichick's design.

Finally, Belchick's influences were ecletic and subtle. Belchick broke into the NFL under Baltimore DC Maxie Baughan, who for many years was the on-field defensive leader for master defensive designer and HOFer George Allen. Belchick also did a year in Denver in 1978 with DC Joe Collier, the year after Collier's "Orange Crush" defense became the first modern 3-4 defense to carry a team to a Super Bowl appearance.

On the offensive side of the ball, it was Ray Perkins--an innovative offensive mind--not Parcells, who was the Giants HC when Belichick came to New York. And Belichick spent two years in Detroit (1976-1977), the latter as receivers coach, for a little known offensive coordinator named Tommy Hudspeth. In the late 1960s, while head coach at BYU, Hudspeth hired Lavell Edwards, who would go on to transform the passing game at the college level in 1980s. One of Hudspeth's QBs at BYU was Virgil Carter, the player for whom Bill Walsh invented the "West Coast Offense" in Cincinnati and who laid the foundation for much of present day football analytics. Hudspeth's 1976 Lions (6-8) rank 12th on the list of best passer rating differentials in NFL history, the only team on the list with a losing record.

Bill Belichick Coaching Statistics
(Super Bowl Champions in Bold)
(AFC Champion or Runner-Up in Italic)

Year

Team

Record

Play Design (Ha) +/-

Turnover (TO) +/-

1991

Cleveland

6-10

+.0122

+15

1992

Cleveland

7-9

+.0219

+5

1993

Cleveland

7-9

+.0210

-14

1994

Cleveland

11-5

+.0301

-4

1995

Cleveland

5-11

-.0064

-7

2000

New England

5-11

-.0279

-2

2001

New England

11-5

+.0048

+7

2002

New England

9-7

-.0013

+5

2003

New England

14-2

+.0415

+17

2004

New England

14-2

+.0394

+9

2005

New England

10-6

+.0088

-6

2006

New England

12-4

+.0161

+8

2007

New England

16-0

+.0797

+16

2008

New England

11-5

-.0085

+1

2009

New England

10-6

+.0273

+6

2010

New England

14-2

+.0335

+28

2011

New England

13-3

+.0272

+17

2012

New England

12-4

+.0012

+25

2013

New England

12-4

-.0004

+9

2014

New England

12-4

+.0065

+12

2015

New England

12-4

+.0294

+7

Total

Cleveland/New England

223-113

+.0146

+154

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