Patriot Reign: Bill Belichick, the Coaches, and the Players Who Built a Champion: by Michael Holley
This was a short, fantastic read that provided insight to the genius that is Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization from the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Bill Belichick, a true student of the game, learned how to break down film from his father, and his preparation to games is said to be without peer. Belichick learned a lot from his head coaching stint in Cleveland, unbeknownst to most people, Belichick was the head coach in Cleveland before he became the head coach in New England, and he was not very good before coming to the Patriots. During his time with the Browns, Belichick stressed every single detail, delegated very little, and often ended up with too much on his plate. He also ostracized the media, and was in turn resented by them. Though he clearly got his act together with the Patriots and now has many people to do menial tasks for him. Bill also learned much from the 2002 season that was considered to be a major let-down. As reigning Super Bowl champions, the players entered the season as favorites to win the next Super Bowl, but the players became complacent, cocky, and had false-confidence. From this experience, Bill learned that he cannot build his players up too much lest he risk the team loosing sight of their goals.
What makes Bill Belichick’s philosophy so unique is that he never changes for a player, from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer, if you step out of line you will get in trouble. Referred to as the “Patriot Way” Bill Belichick finds the perfect balance between player performance, player development, and experience; no player is bigger than the team. Veteran players often take less money to play for the Patriots, and immediately buy into the “Patriot Way,” it’s no wonder that New England has been a powerhouse in the last decade. I would also liken Bill Belichick to Sun Tzu as both of them believe that the devil is in the details and both of them believe that intense preparation is a sure-fire way to guarantee success on the battlefield/gridiron. I guess what makes Belichick’s philosophy so unique is that he is incredibly consistent as he has a long history of immediately cutting players who do not buy into his system.
Belichick really had to take a hard look at what his team did defensively going into the 2001 Super Bowl against the Rams. The Patriots entered the game as huge underdogs as they were taking on the “Greatest Show on Turf,” and had steamrolled by them earlier in the year. Belichick, being the genius that he is, figured out that the best way to disrupt the Rams offense was to completely eliminate Marshall Faulk, their star running back. Instead of having the defensive line pin their ears back and go after Kurt Warner, their quarterback, they were instructed to disrupt Marshall first and then to rush Warner. As a football fan, the genius of that most likely led to the Patriots having the huge upset over the Rams. While Bill Belichick is regarded as the best coach in the NFL, he is very adaptive and will throw anything out the window if it is not working which is a skill that many NFL coaches never master. I honestly do not believe that his philosophy has ever been challenged due to how air tight and amorphous it is. For example, the Patriots drafted two tight ends in 2010 that have a very unique skill set, so what did Belichick do? He adapted his offense to best utilize these two players and defenses have yet to come up with an answer to these two players. While this strategy screams common sense, someone like Mike Martz, who does not believe in utilizing tight ends, would have let them rot on the roster since they do not “fit” his offense.
While this book helped me reinforce what I thought about the “Patriot Way,” I already had doing something similar to the “Patriot Way” in my coaching philosophy. Now from a football philosophy standpoint, this book really helped be shore up some areas I was not strong in. More than anything else, this book changed the way I thought about pre-game preparation, while I always knew the importance of it, I never knew exactly hot to go about it and the book provided insight on how Belichick game plans. Without boring you with football strategy, this book also helped me shape by ideas on how to disrupt fast offenses without a necessarily fast defense, among other things. The book made it clear how important it is to delegate power and responsibility so that you never get in over your head, as what happened to Belichick in Cleveland. Without tooting my own horn here, many parts of my coaching and football philosophies were enforced by this book, but Bill Belichick is also the coach that I hope to emulate the most so that would make sense. This book was a great read and only reinforced my belief that Belichick is without peer in the NFL and is everything that a good coach should be.