Bill Belichick Head Coach
Year: 30 Yrs/Pat: 6
Born: Apr 16, 1952 Nashville Tenn.
Bill Belichick was born April 16, 1952 in Nashville, Tenn. and raised in Annapolis, Md. His father, Steve, played fullback for the Detroit Lions in 1941 and coached for 33 years at the Naval Academy. Bill was a standout prep athlete at Annapolis High, where he has since been inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., before enrolling at Wesleyan, where he earned his bachelor's degree in economics in 1975. He and his wife, Debby, have three children: Amanda, Stephen and Brian.
Bill Belichick returned to New England when Patriots owner Robert Kraft named him the 14th head coach in Patriots history on Jan. 27, 2000. Belichick, who was a defensive assistant and assistant head coach for the Patriots when the team won a conference title in 1996, took over and quickly molded the Patriots into one of the elite teams in the NFL. On Feb. 3, 2002, he became the first head coach in the franchise's 42-year history to lead the team to a league title, AFL or NFL, with a dramatic 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Then, on Feb. 1, 2004, after the Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, in Super Bowl XXXVIII. He became just the sixth head coach in NFL history to win two Super Bowls in a three year span.
The Super Bowl XXXVIII victory improved Belichick's record in the playoffs to 6-0 since joining the Patriots in 2000 and gave him seven career playoff victories in eight postseason games. His current six-game postseason win streak is the third longest in NFL history. To put that into perspective, consider that in the franchise's first 40 seasons, the team had only won seven of its 17 playoff games. Belichick's three playoff victories last season improved his career winning percentage in the playoffs to .875. The only coach to enjoy a better rate of success in the playoffs is the coach whose name is now emblazoned on the Super Bowl trophy, Vince Lombardi. Lombardi won nine of his 10 playoff appearances, including the league's first two Super Bowl titles while coaching the Green Bay Packers.
With his Super Bowl XXXVIII triumph, Belichick became just the 12th head coach in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl titles. Chuck Noll (4), Joe Gibbs (3) and Bill Walsh (3) are the only head coaches in the history of the game to have won more Super Bowls than Belichick.
The recent Super Bowl win was the fourth of Belichick's distinguished NFL career, a career that began in 1975. Now in his 30th season in the NFL, he has more years of NFL experience than any of the other 31 head coaches. In his first 29 seasons, his teams qualified for the playoffs 13 times and won nine division titles, five conference championships and four Super Bowls. He won his first two Super Bowls as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 1986 and again in 1990 before claiming his two Super Bowl championships with the Patriots in the past three years. George Seifert is the only other man to have won multiple Super Bowls both as a head coach and as an assistant coach.
Entering his fifth season as the Patriots head coach, Belichick already owns the franchise's highest career winning percentage (.643) and needs just nine more wins to move ahead of Mike Holovak's (1961-68) franchise record of 53 wins. In 2001, he rebounded from a 5-11 record the previous season to improve to 11-5, tying the then franchise regular season record for wins. With a 20-17 victory over the Rams in the Super Bowl, the Patriots tied the franchise's record of 14 wins in a season and set another record with a nine-game season-ending win streak. In 2003, the Patriots eclipsed each of those marks, posting a 14-2 record in the regular season and notching 17 total wins on the season, including a season-ending 15-game win streak. The 15 consecutive wins in a single season is the second-longest streak in NFL history (Miami's 17-0 in 1972). The team's 17-2 overall record in 2003 was also the third-best in NFL history, trailing the 1985 Chicago Bears (18-1) and the 1984 San Francisco 49ers (18-1).
In Belichick's last three seasons, the Patriots have won 40 games, claimed two division titles, two conference titles and two Super Bowl titles. His 40 wins during that time (2001-03) are not only the most in the NFL, but also the most during any three-year span in Patriots history. Both championship seasons were met with early season adversity and relied on the depth of the roster to overcome injuries. In 2001, the Patriots opened the season 0-2 before rebounding to win 14 of the next 17 games. In 2003, a 31-0 season-opening setback in Buffalo was answered triumphantly, as the team rebounded to win 17 of the next 18 games, including a 15-game season-ending win streak.
The 2003 squad featured one of the most talented defensive units in franchise history. On November 16, the Patriots recorded their first shutout victory in seven years with a 12-0 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. It was the first of three shutouts in 2003, including a 31-0 payback when they hosted the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale. The three shutouts set a franchise record and brought the Patriots' points allowed average for the season to a league-low 14.9 points per game (238 points for the season). In their last six regular-season home games, the Patriots allowed just one touchdown and a lowly average of 3.7 points per game. The defense was a ball-hawking, opportunistic unit that was credited with interceptions in 15 of their 16 regular season games and led the NFL with 29 interceptions, the second-highest total in franchise history. They also recovered 12 fumbles for a total of 41 takeaways, which led the AFC and ranked second in the NFL. With just 24 turnovers surrendered, the Patriots finished the year with a plus-17 turnover ratio, the second highest in the league and the highest in team history.
The Patriots were 12-0 when recording a positive turnover ratio and 10-0 against teams with winning records, including the playoffs. For the first time in franchise history, the team was also undefeated at home, 10-0, including the postseason.
Coach Belichick's accomplishments were lauded, as Associated Press was one of the first to name him their 2003 NFL Coach of the Year. It was just the second time in the franchise's history that a Patriots coach received the AP honor. It was the first of many NFL Coach of the Year awards, including honors from The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, SI.com, NFL.com, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, NFL Alumni, FOX TV/Terry Bradshaw, the Victor Awards and the AFC Coach of the Year honors presented by the 101 Football Awards in Kansas City, just to name a few.
Over the past three seasons, the Patriots have been the best in the league at maintaining a lead late in the game. Since 2001, the Patriots have won 27 consecutive regular season games when leading after three quarters. Only Tennessee (19), Kansas City (15) and Dallas (10) have double digit streaks going into the 2004 season. In addition, the Patriots have played their best football late in the season. Since 2001, the Patriots have a 28-4 (.875) overall record in games played after November 1.
When the Patriots announced Belichick's hiring, many regarded him as one of the premier defensive strategists in the game. That reputation was earned over a 25-year NFL coaching career that included Super Bowl titles as the defensive architect of the New York Giants in 1986 and 1990 and a conference championship as the assistant head coach and defensive assistant for the Patriots in 1996. When he returned to the Patriots in 2000, he followed a sound architectural plan, fortifying the foundation of the roster with team-oriented free agents who would support his overall team philosophy. After directing the Patriots from a worst-to-first turnaround in 2001 and claiming two Super Bowl titles in the past three years, many now regard him as the premier head coach in the game. He enters the 2004 season ranked ninth among the league's active head coaches with 82 career wins, including a 7-1 record in the playoffs.
In 2002, the Patriots valiantly defended their title and remained in playoff contention through the final game of the regular season. A dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Miami Dolphins in the 2002 season finale gave the Patriots their ninth win of the season and a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Unfortunately, just three hours later, the Patriots were eliminated from the postseason when the New York Jets upset the Green Bay Packers to claim the remaining playoff position.
After an unspectacular 1-3 start in 2001, the Patriots rebounded to win 10 of their last 12 games to claim the division title for the first time in four years. A six-game win streak propelled the Patriots into the playoffs, where their team-first philosophy earned national acclaim. In each playoff game, the offense, defense and special teams units played critical roles, enabling the Patriots to systematically defeat three favored opponents throughout the playoffs with wins over the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams. The victories extended their streak to a then-franchise record nine games and earned the team New England's first Lombardi Trophy. That season, the Patriots averaged 23.2 points per game while surrendering just 17 points per contest. The 23.2 point average was the highest by a Patriots team since 1996 (26.1 ppg), while the 17 points allowed was the lowest since 1977 (15.5 ppg.)
During the 2000 season, Belichick started the rebuilding process with the acquisition of 30 new players. That year, the Patriots set a team record by having 13 of their 16 games played decided by eight points or less. Never had so many Patriots games been decided by such a small margin during the course of a season, but the Patriots were only 4-9 in those games. One marked area of improvement was the team's overall reduction in turnovers, dropping from 33 in 1999 to just 25 in 2000 (fourth-best in franchise history).
Belichick returned to the Patriots as head coach after three seasons with the New York Jets, where his defenses were credited for New York's intra-division success against the high-octane offenses of the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills and Colts. He was also credited for successfully defusing the Indianapolis Colts' offensive arsenal, limiting the conference's most prolific offense to an average of just 14.5 points in their two matchups. That year, the Colts averaged over 28 points per game in their 14 other games.
In 1998, the Jets surrendered just 266 points, one point shy of Miami's league-leading 265. The 16.6 points allowed per game was the third lowest season average in Jets history and propelled the team to their first division title with a franchise-best 12-4 overall record. The Jets advanced to the AFC Championship game, but were defeated by the returning Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, who went on to repeat as champions.
Following the season, Belichick filled in for Bill Parcells as the head coach of the AFC's squad in the 1999 Pro Bowl. The AFC won the matchup, a game in which Ty Law was named co-MVP.
Belichick was named head coach of the New York Jets on Feb. 3, 1997, an interim position he held until Parcells was formally announced as head coach a week later. During that week, Belichick hired Scott Pioli as his director of pro personnel. After Parcells was named head coach, Belichick became the assistant head coach/secondary coach responsible for calling the team's defensive signals. In his first season with the Jets, his defense surrendered just 287 points, an average of 17.9 points per game. That marked a significant 10.5-point improvement per game from 1996. The 287 points allowed ranked second in the AFC, sixth overall, and was critical to the Jets' rise from 1-15 in 1996 to 9-7 in 1997. In three seasons in New York, his defenses were credited with 90 takeaways, improving each season from 25 in 1997 to 30 in 1998 to 35 in 1999.
Patriots fans witnessed his impact on a team firsthand in 1996 when Belichick joined the Patriots after five seasons as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. That year, the Patriots claimed their first division title in 10 years with an 11-5 record and won their first two playoff games at Foxboro Stadium to advance to Super Bowl XXXI. Characteristically, Belichick's defensive influence was credited for the team's overall defensive success down the stretch and through the playoffs. That year, the Patriots' defense allowed just 19.6 points per game and forced 34 turnovers, second in the AFC. The defense was at its best in the "red zone," finishing second in the AFC by allowing touchdowns just 42.3 percent of the time. In two playoff games, the defense allowed just nine points combined, propelling the Patriots to victories over Pittsburgh (28-3) and Jacksonville (20-6). Their victory over Jacksonville gave the Patriots their second AFC Championship and a return to New Orleans for Super Bowl XXXI vs. Green Bay.
Prior to joining the Patriots, he spent five seasons (1991-95) rebuilding the Cleveland Browns, whose 3-13 finish in 1990 was the worst in the history of the franchise. By 1994, the Browns were again one of the elite teams in the NFL, boasting the second-best record in the AFC. That head coaching opportunity came following the 1990 season, when Belichick's defensive efforts with the New York Giants helped claim a second Super Bowl title in five years. Cleveland wasted no time in hiring the talented young defensive coordinator, naming him the franchise's 10th head coach on Feb. 5, 1991. At the age of 38, he became the NFL's youngest head coach. In his first season, he began the rebuilding process by restoring the foundation of the aging squad he inherited. In 1991, the Browns improved to 6-10 and played in 11 games that were decided by a touchdown or less. The most dramatic improvement came in the category of turnovers. In 1990, the Browns surrendered 46 turnovers. In Belichick's first season as head coach, the team established a franchise record by turning the ball over just 18 times - four shy of the NFL record set by the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants the previous season. The Browns led the AFC with a plus-15 turnover ratio, a remarkable 39-turnover improvement from their NFL-low negative-24 ratio the year before.
Following back-to-back 7-9 campaigns in 1992 and 1993, the Browns improved to 11-5 in 1994. Only Pittsburgh, who won the division with a 12-4 record, had a better record in the AFC that season. In their return to the playoffs, the Browns eliminated Parcells' Patriots, 20-13, in a first-round wild-card game on New Year's Day 1995. The Browns advanced to the divisional playoff round before being bumped by the Steelers. The 1994 squad was defined by its defense, which allowed a league-low 204 points (12.8 ppg) and just 301.6 yards per game, second in the AFC.
The 1995 season was disrupted by the mid-season announcement that the franchise would be moved to Baltimore at the conclusion of the season. The announcement caused an inextricable mid-season distraction resulting in a 5-11 finish. Belichick did not accompany the franchise's move to Baltimore after the 1995 season.
Belichick originally began his coaching career after graduating from Wesleyan University and accepting a staff assistant position with the Baltimore Colts in 1975. At the age of 23, he was named special assistant to Head Coach Ted Marchibroda.
In 1976, he joined Rick Forzano's staff with the Detroit Lions as an assistant special teams coach. The following year, he was given his first positional coaching assignment as the Lions' tight ends and receivers coach. In 1978, Denver Broncos Head Coach Red Miller hired Belichick as the assistant special teams coach and assistant to defensive coordinator Joe Collier.
In 1979, he joined Ray Perkins' staff with the New York Giants as a defensive assistant and special teams coach, launching a 12-year tenure with the Giants. After the 1980 campaign, he drew the added responsibility of coaching the Giants linebackers. In 1983, he began coordinating the defense on Bill Parcells' staff and continued coaching the linebackers, a unit that would become known as one of the most dominant groups of all-time. He was officially appointed defensive coordinator in 1985, a position he held for the next six seasons. During his time as the defensive signal caller, his units were never ranked lower than 11th in the NFL and finished as high as second in the league three times, including the Super Bowl seasons of 1986 and 1990. His contributions with the Giants throughout the 1980s brought him national recognition as one of the best young assistant coaches in the NFL. His reward came just nine days after Super Bowl XXV when the Cleveland Browns hired him as their head coach.
Belichick lettered in football, lacrosse and squash while attending college at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. He earned three letters in football while competing at center and tight end. As a senior, he was named captain of his lacrosse team.