Patricia's firing highlights failures of Belichick coaching tree


When the Detroit Lions fired Matt Patricia over the weekend, it highlighted yet another failure from the Bill Belichick coaching tree. Here's how his former assistants have fared as NFL head coaches.

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Six Super Bowl wins as a head coach. Two more as a defensive coordinator. A three-time NFL Coach of the Year. An NFL-record 31 playoff victories.

There's no doubt that Bill Belichick is one of the all-time greats as an NFL head coach, but there's one area in which his résumé doesn't stack up to some other legendary figures: his coaching tree.

Bill Walsh's coaching tree includes Super Bowl-winning coaches like Mike Holmgren and George Seifert. Marty Schottenheimer's includes Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy. Bill Parcells' coaching tree includes Belichick, Sean Payton, and Tom Coughlin.

But Belichick's hasn't had nearly that level of success. As of November 28, 2020, his former assistants have a combined record of 208-296-1, a brutal .413 winning percentage.

(All records current as of November 28, 2000.)


New York Jets, 2000: 9-7 record

In the history of the New York Jets franchise, only two head coaches have a record above .500: Bill Parcells and Al Groh.

Groh, who served as linebackers coach under Belichick in Cleveland in 1992 before coming to New England as defensive coordinator under Parcells, only spent one season as the Jets head coach before resigning to coach at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, where he spent nine seasons as head coach.


Miami Dolphins, 2005-06: 15-17 record

Arguably the greatest head coach in college football history, Nick Saban's stint in the NFL is barely a footnote on his legendary career, a brief two-year blip that included the only sub-.500 year on his résumé, a 6-10 campaign in 2006.

But his years with the Fins weren't the worst years of his life; that's how he termed the four years he spent as Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Browns in the 1990s.


Cleveland Browns, 2005-08: 24-40 record

Kansas City Chiefs, 2011-12: 4-15 record

Houston Texans, 2020: 4-3 record

A five-time Super Bowl champion as an assistant coach, Romeo Crennel is now the oldest head coach in NFL history, taking over for Bill O'Brien in 2020 at the age of 73.

It's his second time as an interim head coach, after he took over for Todd Haley in Kansas City in 2011. But in five full seasons as a head coach in Cleveland and Kansas City, Crennel only has a 26-54 record and three last-place finishes.


New York Jets, 2006-08: 23-25 record

Cleveland Browns, 2009-10: 10-22 record

It's fitting that Eric Mangini follows Crennel on our list of coaches on the Belichick coaching tree, because Mangini succeeded Crennel twice: first as defensive coordinator with the Patriots in 2005 and then again as head coach of the Browns in 2009.

And while Mangini coached with Belichick on the Browns, Jets, and Patriots, the two no longer have a relationship after Mangini's role in setting off the Spygate scandal in 2007.


Detroit Lions, 2009-13: 29-51 record

Jim Schwartz got his first NFL job as a scout under Belichick with the Browns in 1993 and later brought his defensive acumen to Ravens and Titans before finally getting an opportunity as a head coach in Detroit in 2009. But in five seasons, his Lions only made the playoffs once and had double-digit losses in three seasons. 

However, Schwartz got the better of Belichick in one important meeting, as he was the defensive coordinator for the Eagles when Philadelphia knocked off New England in Super Bowl LII.


Denver Broncos, 2009-10: 11-17 record

Has there ever been an NFL coordinator who has been mentioned as a candidate for more NFL head coaching gigs than Josh McDaniels?

Every season, his name seems to be front and center as a potential option for teams looking for a new head coach, but he's only accepted two offers: from Denver, where he didn't make it through two full seasons as the team's head coach, and from Indianapolis, where he didn't even last 24 hours before withdrawing from the position and returning to New England.


Houston Texans, 2014-20: 52-48 record

Bill O'Brien spent five seasons under Belichick in New England, but his first head coaching job wasn't in the NFL -- it was at Penn State, where he took over for Joe Paterno in 2012.

But after two seasons in Happy Valley, O'Brien jumped back to the pros, where he racked up a .520 win percentage but only two playoff wins in six-plus seasons with the Texans, where he'll always be remembered as the head coach who traded DeAndre Hopkins away.


Detroit Lions, 2018-20: 13-29-1 record

Matt Patricia's first win as an NFL head coach came against the Patriots in Week 3 of the 2018 season, but there weren't many victories after that.

He was perenially on the hot seat in Detroit, where he led the Lions to last-place finishes in each of his two full seasons and had them in last place again this season, when a 16-point home loss on Thanksgiving was the final straw.


Miami Dolphins, 2019-20: 11-15 record

After 15 seasons in New England, where his titles ranged from scouting assistant to special teams assistant to safeties coach to linebackers coach, Flores capped his Patriots tenure in 2018 as the team's defensive play-caller before heading to Miami the day after the Pats won Super Bowl LIII.

And while Flores lost his first seven games with the Dolphins, he has turned the franchise around since then with wins in 11 of his last 19 games -- and has them squarely in the playoff hunt this season.


New York Giants, 2020: 3-7 record

One of the more surprising head coaching hires in recent seasons, Joe Judge made the transition from special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach in New England to head coach of the Giants this January.

His fiery nature has made headlines in New York, and even though he's won just three of his first 10 games, his Giants are still in the playoff chase in the wretched NFC East.

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