The trend, unfortunately, is undeniable.
All four Patriots assistants under head coach Bill Belichick who took NFL head coaching jobs outside New England have failed to find success: Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini with the New York Jets, Josh McDaniels with the Denver Broncos and, most recently, Bill O’Brien with the Houston Texans. Even Charlie Weis underwhelmed in the college ranks at Notre Dame and Kansas after thriving as Belichick’s offensive coordinator.
That seems a bit counter-intuitive: You’d think the knowledge gleaned from arguably the best head coach of all time should set an assistant coach up for success. So, what gives?
Retired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd spent just one year in New England in 2012, but he has an opinion on the subject. When asked how the Patriots thrive year after year despite so much roster turnover, Lloyd told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop that Belichick’s system works “because so many of the players lack the ability to start on another team, so they just do what they’re told to do.”
The Patriots, he continued, “take players like that on purpose. That’s the business model.” And why doesn’t that business model work for his Belichick’s ex-assistants? Simple:
“Because (those guys) don’t have the credibility Bill does.”
Lloyd added that some players even have trouble buying into Belichick’s model in New England, despite the incredible results his system has produced since 2001.
“It’s not like the Patriots don’t have disgruntled players. They do,” Lloyd told Bishop. “It’s that the credibility goes so far back you can’t ignore it. So, you do what you’re supposed to do.”
We get Lloyd’s point: It’s one thing to swallow your pride and listen to a coach who’s almost guaranteed to bring your team success. It’s quite another when that message — even if it’s similar to Belichick’s — is coming from a first-year head coach with no proven track record.
Of course, there’s another simpler explanation here: Belichick has Tom Brady, and the rest of the league doesn’t.
Lloyd’s theory will be put to the test again next season, though, as both of the Patriots’ coordinators are expected to take head coach jobs this offseason: Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions and McDaniels with the Indianapolis Colts.