The New England Patriots enter their fifth Super Bowl under Bill Belichick since he started as head coach in 2000. Here's a man who has climbed the Mt. Rushmore of NFL head coaches and planted his flag firmly atop the mountain as the greatest head coach in the game today—if not ever.
Some will tell you Belichick has lost his touch. Their arguments are weak.
Here's one from Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News. You almost can't tell he's writing in Giants-friendly NY.
His giant football brain has shrunk somehow to mortal size these past seven years. Bill Belichick hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2005, his draft picks have flopped and his defense this season gave up the third-highest total yards in NFL history.
Yes, Belichick's genius has clearly shrunk to the point that his team is playing for another Super Bowl title. And yes, that's sarcasm.
Mr. Bondy correctly points out that Belichick's draft picks have flopped, and yet they are still playing for a Super Bowl title. Doesn't that alone speak to the genius of Belichick as a coach? The fact that converted wide receiver Julian Edelman can replace first-round draft picks at cornerback and this team still wins enough games to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC and make the Super Bowl is a genuine credit to Belichick's genius. Nothing else.
Personnel aside, when the 2011 season was threatened by a lockout, Belichick did the smart thing and shifted his defense to a very classic, very basic 4-3 scheme. As the team has progressed through the weeks, the Patriots are shifting to more of a 3-4 and other hybrid sets. Belichick didn't force his schemes on a young roster, he fit his schemes to a roster that was young and inexperienced with limited time to develop.
Take a look at where the Patriots' starters have come from in the draft and you'll see a coach and personnel director who has picked his spots and found a unit that can win him games.
Belichick's genius was cemented when the team drafted Tom Brady with pick No. 199 overall and then had the foresight to keep him in as the starter when Drew Bledsoe went down with injury. His genius has been increased by winning three Super Bowls, guiding his team to an undefeated regular season and now taking them to five Super Bowl appearances in 10 seasons. Fan or not, what Belichick has done is unprecedented.
|Team||Defensive Rank||2011 Result|
|Steelers||No. 1 Overall||12-4, lost in Wild-Card Round|
|Texans||No. 2 Overall||10-6, lost in Divisional Round|
|Ravens||No. 3 Overall||12-4, lost in AFC Championship|
|49ers||No. 4 Overall||13-3, lost in NFC Championship|
|Jets||No. 5 Overall||8-8, missed playoffs|
|Patriots||No. 31 Overall||13-3, AFC Champions|
The Patriots may not have the best defense statistically, but they have one of two defenses still playing football this season. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.