An intrepid reporter hit the jackpot on Thursday when they asked New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick about how he’s developed his scouting philosophy over the years. Belichick embarked on a trip down memory lane, going all the way back to 1992 with the Cleveland Browns.
“I’d say a lot of [my scouting philosophy] was really developed in Cleveland with Mike Lombardi,” Belichick said. “We put together the scouting department there after Ernie [Accorsi] left [after the 1991 season].
“Dom Anile who was our director college scouting [played a part], but Mike and I with the help of a great scouting staff, like Jim Schwartz, were there and coaches, like coach [Nick] Saban and coach [Scott] O’Brien, because our coaches had a lot of influence in the scouting system.
“We put that together over the course of that time in Cleveland and, not speaking for Nick [Saban], but I know in talking to Nick a lot of the principles that we developed there he’s used [at the University of Alabama] and certainly modified and many of us have, as we’ve moved along, have done that as well [with the] scouting system, scouting grades, and identifying players and their certain characteristics and how to give them a grade, how to note them, how to put some kind of a value on them and organize it.
“But all of that was developed for me in Cleveland, primarily with Mike and other people on his staff.”
Belichick also noted that his time with the New York Giants “had some relevance” to what he constructed with the Browns, but that his current system “is a lot different than what I did with the Giants.”
The core of Belichick’s scouting philosophy is to look at the process from all sides and to get feedback from both the scouting department and the coaching staff because the coaches should have plenty of input on the types of players they need in order to execute the game plan.
“In Cleveland we kind of took things from a lot of different angles,” Belichick explained. “Mike’s personnel angle, Nick had a lot defensively, a lot of input in the whole process, Scott on special teams, Ernie [Adams] on offense.”
Note: Belichick did not have an offensive coordinator and called the plays. Ernie Adams was an offensive assistant.
This structure remains in place with the Patriots, even as Nick Caserio takes on a larger role with the personnel department. The flow of information, and even personnel, between the coaching staff and the scouting department allows the Patriots to continuously find players that are perfect fits for what the team wants to accomplish.
And all of it goes back to Cleveland.
Oh, and this is why I’ll listen to whatever Lombardi says over at The Ringer. I’ll take it with a grain of salt, of course, but he’s someone that Belichick trusts more than almost anyone.