New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a guest speaker at the Ohio State coaching clinic and he discussed how he views the mentality of his coaching staff from top to bottom.
“The way I see a football staff being put together is that it’s a group of head coaches,” Belichick said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “The head coach is the head coach, and he has certain restrictions in the program that he’s running -- whether it’s academic, salary cap, players in that district, budget constraints, whatever they happen to be. The coaches below that, coordinators, are really head coaches of their respective side of the ball: offense, defense, special teams. Position coaches are really head coaches of the positions they coach, that group of players.”
Translation: You get to be a head coach, and you get to be a head coach, and YOU get to be a head coach; everybody gets to be a head coach!
The New England Patriots coaching tree might not be the most desirable in the league (that belongs to Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis), but Belichick views each coach as the leader of their grouping, whether that be a positional unit or the entire offense, and that has to help when developing a mental approach to the game.
There’s a reason why the Patriots have the #1 ranked offense and the #2 ranked defense dating back to 2001: there’s continuity on the coaching staff.
Belichick likes to grooms his coaches in-house so there is a pipeline of talent ready to take over if a higher-ranked coach takes a bigger job elsewhere. Josh McDaniels is the offensive coordinator, but the Patriots had tight ends coach Brian Daboll waiting to take over if McDaniels received a head coaching job for 2017.
Instead, McDaniels stayed with the Patriots, Daboll took the offensive coordinator job at the University of Alabama, and former offensive assistant Nick Caley was promoted to tight ends coach; wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea is now the likely heir to the offensive coordinator job.
Just like at every player position, there is a coach waiting in the wings for their chance. DT Alan Branch is aging, so the Patriots drafted DT Vincent Valentine in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is aging, and so the Patriots have Cole Popovich as an offensive assistant until Scarnecchia retires.
McDaniels and Matt Patricia have been two of the hottest head coaching candidates in the NFL over the past couple of offseasons as both are viewed a potential quality head coaches. Instead, both will be returning to the Patriots to lead the offense and defense, respectively, for the sixth-straight season.
Being a head coach is all about running a team delegating roles and tasks. Belichick sends his task list to McDaniels and Patricia, who in turn send task lists to their positional coaches. Those coaches send tasks to the assistant coaches and even to the scout teams to generate reports and previews of opposing teams and tendencies.
While maybe not every coach is a “head coach” in title, Belichick certainly grooms each coach with the idea that they are expected to rise up through the ranks and eventually lead as a coordinator or head coach, and makes sure that each coach has the skill set necessary to excel.