In an interview two weeks ago, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he thinks his head coach, Bill Belichick, is the best coach in the NFL – ever. Better than Vince Lombardi. Better than Don Shula and Chuck Noll.
Is Kraft biased? Yes. Does he have any grounds to make such a claim? If the Pats win their fourth Super Bowl under Belichick on Sunday, he absolutely does.
So roll up your sleeves — heck if they’re really annoying just cut them off (that’s what Bill does) — and let’s get into this.
When you’re trying to make an argument for one guy being the all-time best, you have to look at what separates him from everyone else. In a column written on Jan. 20, Pro Football Talk’s website backed up Kraft’s reasoning about just what makes Belichick’s success superior: Belichick is coaching in the salary cap era.
The turnover in the NFL today is much more rapid than it was in Lombardi’s, Shula’s or Noll’s. Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is the only defensive starter leftover from the 2007 team that nearly went 19-0.
Offensively, Tom Brady and most of his offensive line are still in tact, but other than the little used running back Kevin Faulk and elite receiver Wes Welker, Brady’s supporting cast is much different than 2007.
Belichick’s brilliance comes in his repeated ability to get to the Super Bowl with almost completely different teams. Not only is it a different team. It’s a team made mostly of misfits – unwanted NFL orphans.
What Mr. Fagan and his fingerless gloves are to Oliver Twist, Mr. Belichick and his sleeveless hoodies are to the NFL.
Despite always being at the low end of the draft poll, almost no one is better at it than Bill. Most the time he’s not even on the draft poll. Consider this – on this years 53-man roster, 18 Patriots are undrafted free-agents. Of those 18, eight are starters. Eleven more Patriots were drafted in the fifth-round or later, meaning that 29 — more than half of the roster — were not drafted in the first four rounds.
If Belichick beats the Giants on Sunday he will join Chuck Noll as the only coach in NFL history with four Super Bowl rings. If he wins on Sunday, he and his offense will go down as one of the best of all time. Let’s take a look at the keys pieces of that offense:
QB Tom Brady: drafted in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft.
WR Wes Welker: 5-foot-9-inches tall, 185 pounds light, 4.61 pre-draft 40-time. Signed in 2007 from the Dolphins for a one-year $1.35 contract.
RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis: Has never fumbled in his NFL career. Undrafted, he was signed by the Pats in 2008.
RB Danny Woodhead: 5-foot-7 undrafted free agent out of Division-II Chadron State.
TE Rob Gronkowski: This season set the all-time single-season TD and yards record for a tight end. He’s in just his second season and fell to the second round of the draft because of injury concerns.
TE Aaron Hernandez: Drafted in the same year as Gronkowski in the fourth round. Was still fourth among all tight ends this season in receiving yards.
The innovation in the roster of Belichick’s offense speaks for itself. And if he takes down those pesky Giants on Sunday, there’s no doubt in my mind he’s the best and most progressive pro-football coach of all-time. Robert Kraft might be biased but I’m not. I’m a Packers fan.
My apologies to Mr. Lombardi.