Will Bill Belichick stay after Tom Brady's gone?
Itís long been assumed that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the teamís head coach in waiting once Bill Belichick decides itís time to do something different.
Here are the potential problems with that:
- McDaniels may not hold his current title more than another month or so, since heís slated to interview with his hometown Browns in Cleveland on Saturday. Sure, he could always return to New England (again) down the road, but itís tough to imagine he would in the event heís actually enjoying success in his second tour as an NFL head coach. Itís even harder to think he would if he failed for the second time.
- More importantly, Belichick isnít going anywhere, at least not any time soon.
Yes, the man who made the hoodie fashionable will have to retire to the front office or his boat at some point down the road, but the football lifer isnít likely to do so in the kind of window that would have McDaniels inclined to wait around.
It would be a fitting, fairy tale ending if Belichick decided to move on when Tom Brady does in 2017 or sooner Ė their legacies so tightly interlocked Ė but that wonít happen. The three-time Super Bowl winning head coach may very well be on the sidelines until someone carts him off.
To achieve Hall of Fame caliber success, a player or coach must have an ego that forever seeks something, anything to be motivated by in order to keep that reign alive. Belichick has that to an unimaginable degree, and thatís no criticism.
While the coach has undoubtedly appreciated and cherished his time mentoring and growing alongside one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, itís hard to envision him taking more pride in a season than his work in 2008. Not many men could watch a franchise star go down in Week 1 and still reel off 11 wins with a guy everyone wanted cut in training camp.
Belichick has proven he can win without Brady, even reaching the playoffs with the Browns back in 1994, but he hasnít been triumphant to the point of qualifying for a Super Bowl. To do that, as he has on five occasions in his career, heís required Brady, just as the quarterback has needed his coach.
Itís fair to wonder, though, at 61, in seemingly good health, and as in love with the job as ever, why would he retire in the face of the next great challenge? He wonít. This is the same guy who willingly invited a bigger circus than Barnum & Bailey to town the form of Tim Tebow, and squashed the possible distraction from the moment he stepped foot in minicamp.
When Brady does opt to shift his full-time attention to his supermodel wife and kids, Belichick will be out to prove thereís no rebuild necessary in Foxborough. As it is, heís still quietly trying to show he can win the big one after that Spygate mess, and itís got to kill him that he hasnít yet shut up those remaining critics. This year, heís attempting to win three more games without Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Sebastian Vollmer, and Aqib Talibís hips in the chance of seeing confetti rain down beside snowflakes in the Meadowlands next month.
Belichickís no dummy. His strength is on the sidelines and as a game-planning and in-game tactician. The Bill Parcells ladder to personnel prominence likely isnít, or at least shouldnít be, in his future. By comparison, itís not his forte. Television analyst? Unless heís just been messing with us all these years, heíd rather jab a dull fork in his neck.
His dad, Steve, was a coach and scout at the Naval Academy for decades, and Billís been in the family business since his time as a special assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975. You know your roots are strong when they date back to an organization that no longer exists, at least in that name. And now Billís son, Stephen, is on his fatherís staff.
This, what heís been doing in New England for 14 glorious seasons and so many years prior, is all Bill Belichick knows. In many ways, itís all heís ever known. That wonít end merely because his gifted quarterback will one day age to the point that heís no longer elite, great, or even good. By then, there will be a new kid to draft and develop or a veteran to acquire in hopes of continuing the run.
Perhaps Belichick and McDaniels have had conversations about the future, which is why the latter is testing the coaching waters this winter after refusing to do so at this time a year ago with the very same city. And, maybe, a decade or so from now, McDaniels will be that guy to follow Belichick. Frankly, he wouldnít be any older than when his short and gruff spoken boss was when he arrived in the Commonwealth at the age of 48.
That road map may steer McDaniels off course, however, if the talented young coach bungles another opportunity. He was fired by the Broncos after a 3-9 start to his second season as the head man in Denver, and then failed to show any offensive magic as a coordinator with the Rams. To date, heís a proven winner with Belichick as his superior and Brady executing his plays, and thatís it. Heíd be wise to bide his time until a more favorable opportunity than one with the win-starved, Three Stooges-run, quarterback-lacking Browns becomes available. The only excitement that awaits that organization in 2014 is a movie starring Kevin Costner.
When Belichick does feel itís time to go, even long after Bradyís made his exit, his position will be aggressively coveted so long as the Kraft family remains in charge. With strong, dedicated ownership, a willingness to spend (albeit selectively, at times), and a passionate fan base, winning will always be the priority. Itís part of the reason heís staying.
In the meantime, while more than 100 coaches have been hired around the NFL since 2000, thereís been only one in New England and that man has given no indication that heís looking ahead to life after the Patriots. Hell, thereís no sign of Belichick looking beyond his teamís next game. You can expect it to be that way for a good, long time.
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Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.
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