When you talk of the great coaches in NFL history, even the ardent Patriot hater has to put Bill Belichick on the short list. If his team leaves Lucas Oil Stadium with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, it’s namesake will be the only coach he can be compared to. It would be his fourth championship as a head coach and sixth overall. All of this coming in the modern era with player movement in true free agency?? Yikes!! You’d have to look at it like this… Vince Lombardi was the greatest coach in the first 50 years of NFL history (1920-1969) and Belichick would be the greatest from 1970 to the present.
How can we say that?? First let’s dispel the “Spy Gate” situation. In a game of simulated war with blitzes and bombs and protecting zone areas on a field / map: wouldn’t you expect some sort of espionage?? Dont forget that in 1958 John Steadman of the Baltimore Sun Times reported that Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom had an assistant watch the New York Giants practice before the NFL Championship Game. Rosenbloom assured him that if he were caught, he’d have a job for life with the team. Watch the NFL Films production on the 1958 Championship and you can hear it first hand.
Then somewhere in the 60’s to put an end to this, Pete Rozell put in Tuesday film swap day. That way the teams could share intel on each other to put the spy thing to bed. Yet everyone is always trying to steal other team’s signals. Fast forward to Bill Walsh in 1979 who was the first to script his 15 plays and have an elaborate sheet with plays in front of him. He was the first head coach to be completely under a headset all game long. Whenever he would call plays he would use his play sheet to cover his mouth to protect himself from lip readers. This practice is still in place today. Watch the playcaller on the sideline and where once teams had elaborate hand signals, now hold up a play sheet. Quarterbacks have transmitters in their helmets now.
So quit hawking Belichick about that already. Now back to what we were saying…
If you look at his tenure against other coaches from 1970 on, you can’t come up with a more successful coach. He just made his 5th Super Bowl to tie Tom Landry. If he wins he’ll have tied Chuck Noll with 4 Super Bowl titles. Yet what sets him apart is only Tom Brady remains from his 2001 championship where Noll won with primarily the same players. Hell, only 1 defensive starter remains from the 2007 defense that went 16-0. That would be Vince Wilfork. Noll never returned to the Super Bowl and only made 1 AFC Championship after the 70’s run. Belichick has won with 3 incarnations of the Patriots since 2001. Tom Landry and Don Shula did that but neither could get past 2 championships with Belichick going for number 4. Which would put him ahead of Bill Walsh who has 3.
So it’s at this point, the New York Giants are the gatekeepers to history. With this win Belichick will ascend to the rank of the greatest coach in the last 50 years of the NFL. Ironically he won his first two as a defensive co-ordinator for the New York Giants. Another irony is he doesn’t seem to be close to retirement. If there are other championships in his future he would even have to best Lombardi and be thought of as the greatest ever coach.
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