Bill Belichick never threw a block. He never made a tackle. He never threw a pass nor kicked a ball. Players win games.
Hold on. Don’t get mad. Don’t close that tab yet. That’s a quote from Belichick himself. He said it in 2012 after winning his 200th game.
“It’s been a privilege and a great opportunity to coach the players that won those games,” Belichick said at the time. “I didn’t make a block, I didn’t make a tackle, I didn’t throw a pass, I didn’t kick a ball — the players win. But it’s been an honor to coach the group of players that really go out there and make plays and win those games.”
Belichick made a similar statement as recently as this season after winning a game in his 50th stadium, which was made a big deal for some odd reason.
“The only reason I’ve won a lot of games is because I’ve coached a lot of good players,” Belichick said. “Players win games and I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of great players through the years. We won today because our players made big plays to win. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to coach some outstanding players and they turned those into outstanding teams.”
From 2019, after Belichick won his 300th game:
“It’s a great privilege to coach this team and to coach the guys that I’ve coached throughout my career,” Belichick said. “Fortunately, I didn’t play in any of those games. That’s a good thing for us, but I’ve had a lot of good players, a lot of great players and they’re the ones that win the games. I’ve had a lot of great assistant coaches on my staff through the wins at Cleveland and certainly here. I was a part of those but, honestly, players win games in this league and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve coached a lot of great ones.”
After the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII.
“Obviously, couldn’t do it without all of them,” Belichick said. “They’re the ones that deserve the credit. The players went out there and competed against a great football team.”
Before the Patriots played in Super Bowl XLII.
“All the credit goes to the players,” Belichick said. “I’m really lucky to coach this team.”
And on it goes. You get the point.
Belichick must believe it, or at least want you to believe it, after saying it umpteen times.
It really should not be a major surprise that the guy who’s actually throwing passes on the field is more important to a team’s success than a head coach.
Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 11-5 in the 2020 regular season and made Super Bowl LV, the QB’s 10th. Belichick, who has coached in 12 Super Bowls (in 25 more NFL seasons), and the Patriots went 7-9 this season and stayed home for the first time since 2008, which also was the last time the Patriots had someone other than Brady under center for most of the campaign.
There are many reasons why Brady’s Buccaneers succeeded and Belichick’s Patriots fell short. But Belichick also couldn’t sign a quarterback in July and magically turn him into Brady. He couldn’t draft Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round and make him a starter. Belichick can only do so much. He’s a coach. He’s not blocking, tackling, throwing or kicking. Brady took Bruce Arians to his first Super Bowl as head coach.
If Brady was on that same 2020 Patriots team, they still might not have made the playoffs. They probably would have won a few more games, though.
Belichick has a bigger influence on his team’s success than any other head coach or executive in the NFL because he’s both. He’s acquiring the players, and he’s calling the shots on the sideline. This wouldn’t even be a conversation if we were talking about Brady and a head coach who couldn’t pick his own groceries.
Belichick is probably the greatest decision-maker in NFL history based on the Patriots’ unparalleled success over the past 21 years. This is not a shot at Belichick. It’s his opinion after all, right?
It’s the 53 players on the roster who determine games. The quarterback, especially the greatest of all time, makes the biggest difference out of all of them. Brady proved that when he left New England and kept winning in Tampa Bay this season. Belichick knew it all along.
The Belichick-Brady argument doesn’t come down to Belichick’s 62-73 record without Brady or Brady’s 14-5 record without Belichick. There are a ton of other factors in play there. But respect Belichick’s take when it comes to the coaches vs. players conversation.
It was Brady. Belichick said it himself many times over. We’re just picking up on it now.