Bill Belichick is an all-time great coach but his coaching tree pales in comparison to mentor
Bill Belichick was a part of one of the greatest coaching trees in NFL history when he served as an assistant coach for Bill Parcells with the New York Giants from 1983 to 1990, winning two Super Bowls in that time.
Parcells is considered to be one of the greatest NFL head coaches of all time next to Don Shula, Bill Walsh and Vince Lombardi. Parcells was an assistant under Ray Perkins before he got the New York job and built one of the best coaching trees, which included Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Haley and the late Tony Sporano.
Parcells’ coaching tree really filled out over the course of his coaching career with the Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys. From that, Coughlin and Payton have had the most Super Bowl as head coaches.
While Parcells arguably has one of the greatest coaching trees of all-time, Belichick’s has fallen short when his assistants move on to other teams. Only Nick Saban has had similar success, though it wasn’t until he was in the college game.
Bill O’Brien was another person who left the Belichick coaching tree only to find that it wasn’t as easy as Belichick made it look. The Houston Texans fired him Monday after four straight losses to start 2020.
Here’s how some of the other coaches under Belichick have played out during his time with the Cleveland Browns (1991-1995) and his time with the Patriots (2000-present).
Al Groh left the Giants to join Belichick with the Browns for the 1992 season. He would only last one year there before joining the Patriots as a defensive coordinator and eventually took over as the Jets head coach in 2000. He had one season in New York where he went 9-7 and was replaced by Herm Edwards.
Bill O’Brien served as an offensive assistant, wide receivers, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator between 2007 and 2011 before leaving for Penn State and eventually the Texans. O’Brien won several AFC South division titles but was never able to get the team to an AFC Championship game.
The jury on Brian Flores’ head coaching success is still out. Flores took over as the Miami Dolphins head coach in 2019. He was on Belichick’s staff from 2004 to 2018 and served as a scouting assistant, pro scout, special teams assistant, defensive assistant, safeties coach and linebackers coach.
Charlie Weis was an assistant with the Giants before he served under Belichick from 2000 to 2004. He was a head coach at Notre Dame and Kansas but never got a head coaching job in the NFL.
Eric Mangini was a coaches assistant under Belichick in 1995 with the Browns. He then was a defensive backs and defensive coordinator for Belichick from 2000 to 2005. He was the head coach of the Jets and Browns but only appeared in one playoff game.
Jim Bates served under Belichick from 1991 to 1993 and in 1995 when the two were with the Browns. He was an interim head coach with the Dolphins for seven games in 2004 but never got a head coaching gig after his time with Belichick.
Jim Schwartz was a personnel scout in Belichick’s Browns regime from 1993 to 1995. He got his first and only head coaching gig in 2009 with the Detroit Lions. He led them to the playoffs in 2011 but that was it. He’s now a defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joe Judge served under Nick Saban and Belichick. He was the Patriots’ special teams assistant and special teams coordinator from 2012 to 2019. He took the Giants job prior to the 2020 season but has yet to secure his first victory.
Josh McDaniels has had two stints under Belichick while with the Patriots. He was with them from 2001 to 2008 and again from 2012 to the present. He was a head coach for the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010 but only lasted the two seasons.
Matt Patricia has had three seasons if mediocrity with the Lions since taking over in 2014. He was with the Patriots from 2004 to 2017 and served as an assistant offensive line coach, linebackers coach, safeties coach and defensive coordinator.
Nick Saban has had the most success in the Belichick coaching tree. He’s won national championships with LSU and Alabama and will probably stay in the college game. He was Belichick’s defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1994. He coached two seasons for the Dolphins before spurning them for Alabama and never looked back.
Rick Venturi was Belichick’s defensive coordinator when Saban left for Michigan State in 1995. He would later serve as a head coach for the Saints in 1996.
Rod Dowhower was a head coach before serving as Belichick’s quarterbacks coach in 1994 with the Browns. He would never get an NFL head coaching gig after 1986. He was Vanderbilt’s head coach for two seasons in 1995 and 1996.
Romeo Crennel was a defensive coordinator for the Patriots from 2001 to 2004 and had worked with Belichick with the Giants in the 1980s and 1990s. Crennel was the head coach of the Browns from 2005 to 2008 and was the head coach for 19 games with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 and 2012. He is set to be the interim coach of the Texans after Bill O’Brien’s firing.