Despite what you may have heard on sports talk radio, Bill Belichick is among the best team builders in the NFL. As a result, the New England Patriots’ head coach and general manager has accomplished something the league is specifically designed to prevent: he has helped the Patriots stay relevant for two decades and counting.
The Las Vegas Raiders have been on the opposite end of the spectrum for most of the last 20 years, but they are hoping that some of that Belichick magic has rubbed off on their new general manager. Dave Ziegler, after all, spent nine years working under Belichick and has gotten a close look at the maestro.
During his introductory press conference in Las Vegas on Monday, Ziegler explained what he has learned from Belichick during his time in New England.
“I could have a laundry list of things, but the one thing that sticks out to me that Bill taught me is that Bill is a forward-thinker,” he said. “It’s not just about a decision in the moment, it’s about how one decision can impact four different things. One decision can impact what we’re going to do in 2022, 2023. And just to really have an understanding of how decisions can impact different parts of the organization, it can impact your team.”
The Raiders made the decision to hire Ziegler alongside former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels — one that will impact the future of their organization for years to come.
A former college teammate of McDaniels at John Carroll University, Ziegler entered the NFL under McDaniels in 2010. He spent three years with the Denver Broncos before joining the Patriots and reuniting with his old friend.
Originally working as assistant director of pro scouting, Ziegler was promoted multiple times before becoming New England’s director of player personnel in 2021. In that role, he effectively served as Belichick’s right-hand man in the front office. Needless to say that he had a front-row seat to watching the Patriots’ head honcho work.
“Bill is really dedicated to evaluating every single thing that we do at every point of the year and looking at it critically, and then evolving and trying to figure out how we get these things better — even if the end result was a Super Bowl, or even if the end result was a great trade or a great player acquisition, or whatever it may be,” he said on Monday.
“Every decision that we do here in all of our processes that I mentioned, just to evaluate those things critically — what went well, what didn’t go well, and how we can improve it. I think that’s critical to not staying stagnant and to always kind of making sure you’re moving forward with the best ideas and the best processes.”
That approach has helped Belichick build the only dynasty of the NFL’s salary cap era. It also has allowed Ziegler to rise through the ranks and become his No. 2 executive.
Now in Las Vegas, he has risen to the No. 1 spot. Time will tell whether or not he can duplicate the success Belichick and the Patriots have had.