Six Degrees of Bill Belichick
Within the world of sports, no person is bigger than a head coach. With knowledge of the game they control and passion to lead their players into the game, these masters of their craft are true leaders. Of course one name always comes to mind when mentioning head coach. That name is Bill Belichick. His success being an 8-time Super Bowl winner is unmatched in the NFL.
But what of his Assistant’s? These are coaches that have helped Belichick with success over the years. And of course no one stays an assistant forever. This article will bring you where the former assistants of the great Bill Belichick went off to, and where they are today. So, where are they now?
Charlie Weis: Offensive Coordinator New England Patriots (2000-04)
Charlie Weis and Bill Belichick have a pretty good history together. Both men spent time under Bill Parcells in New York where both won Super Bowls. In 2000, as Belichick became the head coach of the Patriots he brought Weis along with him. This would not be the first tenure with New England either. From 1993-1996 Weis would be the tight end, running back, and wide receiver coach for the Pats.
After the 2004 season, Weis took the Head Coaching position for Notre Dame. Weis would spend the next 5 years under the Fighting Irish where he would hold a 35-27 record and a win in the Hawaii Bowl. In 2010 Weis would then take on the offensive coordinator job for the Kansas City Chiefs. Weis would be under the Chiefs for only 1 year, helping them go from a 4-12 record to 10-6. Weis would then head to the Florida Gators to be their new offensive coordinator. During his time, he would be criticized for his offense which was ranked 102nd nationally. In 2011 Weis would then head to Kansas where he would take on the head coaching duties. For the next 3 seasons Weis would hold a 6-22 record for the Jayhawks, and was released from the team 4 games into the season in 2014.
Romeo Crennel: Defensive Coordinator New England Patriots (2001-04)
Like Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel is a man of habit. Crennel would work with Weis and Belichick not only in New England, but with both New York teams. He was under the Giants from 1990-92 and the Jets from 1997-99. Crennel followed Weis’ idea as well as he was the defensive line coach for the Pats from 1993-96. He would be under head coach Bill Parcells while with the Giants, Jets, and Patriots. Crennel would then join Belichick back in New England as the defensive coordinator for the Pats from 2000-04.
Crennel has a fantastic resume, both with ups and downs. After the 2004 season, Crennel took the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns. Crennel had been the defensive coordinator for the 2000 season, coaching one year before heading to New England. He would lead the Browns for 4 years from 2005-08 holding down a 24-40 record, with his best year in 07 holding a 10-6 record. Crennel would be fired from the Browns and head to the Kansas City Chiefs from 2010-2012. He would take on the defensive coordinator job from 2010-2011, and taking over as interim head coach in 11. Crennel would be named head coach in 2012 before being fired in December 2012.
In 2014 Crennel would take the defensive coordinator job with the Houston Texans. For 2 years he would hold this position. He would be named the assistant head coach in 2017, and holding the position along with the defensive coordinator job for the 2018-19 season. After firing of their head coach in 2020, Crennel is the current interim head coach of the Texans. We will have to see where this new venture will take him for the following season.
Bill O’Brien: Offensive Coordinator-New England Patriots (2007-11)
Bill O’Brien spent 5 years under Bill Belichick as an offensive coach. O’Brien’s resume includes multiple colleges before joining Belichick with the Patriots. While nothing before New England was a head coaching job, he made his mark with the NCAA and as a guru of offense. His positions with the Pats would be offensive assistant in 07, wide receivers coach in 08, quarterbacks coach in 09-10, and offensive coordinator in 2011.
For the 2012 season, O’Brien would head to Penn State to take over as their head coach, filling the vacancy under the Joe Paterno firing. O’Brien would lead Penn State for 2 years with a 15-9 record including a record of 8-4 in his first year. He earned the Big 10 Coach of the Year for 2012. O’Brien was named head coach of the Houston Texans following the 2012 season. He would lead the Texans to a winning record in his first season, following their 2-14 the previous season. O’Brien and the Texans would make 4 more winning records during the regular season, making the playoffs 4 times since taking the job. Following the 2019 season, O’Brien earned the title of general manager of the Texans following the vacant role in 2019.
Unfortunately 4 games into the 2020 season, the Texans parted ways with O’Brien after an 0-4 start. Romeo Crennel as taken over as interim head coach for the time being. Don’t count O’Brien out though. I expect he will return somewhere.
Eric Mangini: Defensive Coach-New England Patriots (2000-2005)
Imagine being a ball boy at 23 years of age and getting under the radar of Bill Belichick. Who would have thought it would bring that ball boy to a head coaching job within the NFL, and a AFC Coach of the Year award? That i would believe how Eric Mangini would feel. Belichick would promote the then 23 year old a few times while with Cleveland. Of course Belichick would bring along Mangini in New England from 2000-05. Mangini would hold the positions of defensive backs coach from 200-2004, til taking on the defensive coordinator position in 2005, filling the vacancy from Romeo Crennel.
With the 2006 season, Mangini would step into his first head coaching job with the New York Jets, and would serve from 2006-08. He was also the youngest head coach at the time, being only 35 years of age. Mangini would take the Jets to a 10-6 record in 06 turning around the horrible 4-12 the Jets had in 05. Unfortunately Mangini would go 4-12 in 07, and 9-7 in 08, missing the playoffs even though the Jets started the year 8-3. Mangini was dismissed at season’s end.
Mangini would get another nod at head coach, taking the job with the Cleveland Browns in 2009. He would spend 2 seasons with the Browns holding 5-11 records both years, and would fired in 2011. Mangini would take a few years off until signing up with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 as an offensive consultant. He would be promoted to the tight ends coach in 2014, and again to defensive coordinator in 2015 until being released following the firing of Jim Tomsula. Mangini has not gotten another coaching job since.
Al Groh: LB Coach-Cleveland Browns (92)
I know the above heading says one year on it, yet Al Groh and Bill Belichick have been working on teams together since 1989. Groh and Belichick were part of 4 teams together. Both were with the Giants for 2 years from 89-90, New England from 96, and the Jets from 97-99. He did serve that one year in 92 as a linebacker coach under Belichick as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
More of a college coach, Groh was very good with defenses and working that side of the ball. His only head coaching job in the NFL was with the Jets. He took the head coaching job after Belichick took the job, then headed to New England to take the head coaching job there. All within the same year. Groh did leave the Jets after the 1 year and took the job at his alma mater, Virginia. He would stay on for 9 seasons as their head coach from 01-09. Groh would then take a step down and take the defensive coordinator job with Georgia Tech from 10-12.
Jim Schwartz: Personnel Asst-Cleveland Browns (93-96)
Jim Schwartz has a few assistant jobs under his belt, and he was with Cleveland and Belichick for 4 years. Mainly controlling defense, he helmed as a defensive coordinator for a few years before taking on a head coaching job. His resume includes linebackers coach for Baltimore from 96-98, and multiple defensive spots with Tennessee from 99-08. He took the Head coaching job with the Detroit Lions from 09-13, posting a 29-51 record. His only positive year was 2011 where the team went 10-6 and made the playoffs. He was fired from Detroit after the 2013 season. Schwartz became defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills in 2014, with a 9-7 record, and being 4th in the league in points and yards allowed per game.
In 2016, Schwartz took the defensive coordinator job with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he currently holds the same position to this day. He’s turned the defense around making it a powerhouse, even helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl in 2017 against Belichick and the Patriots.
Matt Patricia: Defensive Coordinator-New England Patriots (2004-17)
When Matt Patricia joined the Patriots and Belichick, he came on as a offensive assistant in 2004. He would spend 1 more year on the offensive side of the ball in 05 until switching over. 2006-10 Patricia was the Patriots linebackers coach, and the safeties coach in 2011. Finally in 2012 til he left in 2017 he became the defensive coordinator. Patricia would win 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots, his last being in the 2016 season.
Patricia took the job in Detroit as the Lions head coach, hired under former Patriots scout Bob Quinn who became the GM of the Lions the year prior. With the Lions beginning the 2020 season with a 4-5 record, and back to back devastating losses, Patricia was fired. His record with the team was 13-29 without a playoff appearance. Even though he lasted only 2 1/2 years, Detroit is a very hard place to coach. I see another coaching job in Patricia’s future.
Josh McDaniels: Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach-New England Patriots (2001-08/2012-current)
Yeah, Josh McDaniels is on the list. Even though he is back with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator, McDaniels had some time to build his reputation with the Pats from 01-08, his first tenure with the team. He’s won 6 Super Bowls with the team, and it’s the most out of a coordinator in NFL history. McDaniels has left his mark with the team and also with working closely with Tom Brady while in New England. His work and ethic built up a power house offense that dominated even the best defenses.
in 2009, McDaniels was named head coach of the Denver Broncos, replacing Mike Shanahan. McDaniels would post a 11-17 record with the team during his almost 2 years with the team. Scandal and issues with personnel were reasons given for his departure. From issues with Jay Cutler in his first year, to a video taping scandal in 2010, these were bad times. McDaniels was offered the offensive coordinator position with the St Louis Rams under Steve Spagnuolo for the 2011 season. With the Rams firing Spagnuolo at the end of the year, McDaniels was given the option if he wanted to go. He opted out and returned back to New England where he still carries the offensive coordinators job. Yet it still remains, will he go for another coaching job?
Brian Flores: Linebackers Coach-New England Patriots (2008-18)
Brian Flores didn’t start out as a coach within the system. He began with the Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant til becoming a pro scout in 2006. Flores made the transition to the field in 2008 where he began working as a special teams assistant. He would then get a bump to the assistant offense for 2010, and defensive assistant in 2011. He took over at safeties coach from 2012-2015, and linebackers coach from 2016-2018. Flores is a 3x Super Bowl winner with the Patriots.
In 2019 Flores took the job with the Miami Dolphins becoming their new head coach. With his first season a losing one, Flores posted a 5-11 record with the Dolphins and a 4th place finish in the AFC East. With 2020 kicking off, so far Flores is 8-4 and holding down 2nd place in the East. Flores has a perfect chance to become a winning coach after leaving Belichick. He would be the first very successful coach to take a head coaching job and succeed. Only time will tell.
Joe Judge: Special Teams Coordinator-New England Patriots 2012-2019
Joe Judge didn’t have the defensive prowess or the offensive mind like Crennel or McDaniels. However he was the leader at special teams for the patriots for 8 years. Even with Josh McDaniels taking on the Indianapolis Colts job and then backing out, Judge was going with him and reverted back to the Patriots. Upon the return to the Pats, he would also take on the role of wide receivers coach until parting in 2020.
Judge would take the head coach position with the New York Giants. He’s currently 5-7 and holding his own with his new team. But there’s a lot of upside to what Judge is capable of, and we could soon see if he’s a coach that is on the positive side of Belichick.
Toph’s Final Word:
To work under Bill Belichick is very hard work and takes a skilled mind and work ethic to keep up. I mean, I am talking about the best coach in the NFL. EVER! So to take the leave and go on your own is like a teenager leaving the house for the first time. It’s gonna be hard, and scary, yet if you have the right tools, you can make it. Sadly some of these guys didn’t, and some of them still show promise as a coach. And yes time will definitely tell which one is which. My money right now is on Brian Flores. Taking on a hard and tough Miami team is one thing, yet in your second year showing a positive result? That’s the right mentality!
On a side note, the current head coach of the Tennessee Titans isn’t out of Belichick’s coaching tree, yet he’s been within his system. Yeah, Mike Vrabel is doing amazing things as the Titans coach, even some plays Belichick would be proud of. After playing for the Pats from 2001-08 he would go on to coach defenses for Ohio State, then back to the NFL for the Houston Texans. So far Vrabel has been the most successful. Taking the head coaching job in Tennessee he sports a 26-18 record with a 2-1 record in the post season. Now he’s a coach to watch!
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