It’s no secret that the cornerstones of the New England Patriots’ dynasty are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. But while Brady is always at or near the top of the league, it is Belichick who has allowed the dynasty to continue for so long.
Both of the men responsible for six titles in under 20 years wouldn’t be where they are without the other. But while an argument can be made that Brady carried Belichick early in the dynasty, it is clear that the head coach has kept Brady competing at an elite level even as he enters his early 40s. Belichick is by far the best among his contemporaries — and he is the best by so much that it is almost laughable.
There is a unanimous agreement as to who is the No. 1 coach in the NFL.
But what about second place?
That’s where the many (flawed) arguments begin.
Sean Payton has been able to revive the Saints in time for the end of Drew Brees’s career. But Payton has shown that he can’t coach defense, something that has kept him and Brees from starting their own dynasty in the NFC.
Andy Reid is a quarterback whisperer, but that’s where the talent ends. For a coach who has been around as long as he has, one has to wonder if that massive play sheet he uses on game day truly is a fast-food menu because he never seems to be able to nail down big wins and manage the clock.
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in his decade-plus at the helm of the Steelers, but he has only reached two Super Bowls — including one with Bill Cowher’s defense — and continually chokes against Belichick and Brady despite usually having superior talent.
Doug Pederson wasn’t shy about going for broke against the Patriots in Super Bowl 52, but has he had a long enough track record to be considered second best, and even in the same class as Belichick?
Sean McVay perhaps? The entire NFL saw his Rams on display in Atlanta against New England this past February. However, that resulted in a terrible showing that saw his potent offense put up just three points because of his inability to make adjustments.
Finally, there’s the coach who probably rightfully deserves to be ranked second, Pete Carroll. The same Pete Carroll who threw the ball on second and goal. Enough said.
The fact remains that while the Patriots used to have both superior talent and coaching, the gap between them and the rest of the league in talent is rapidly closing if it hasn’t already. Yet Belichick continues to do more with less, and until the rest of the league is able to spit out a worthy opponent for the Sith lord himself or he decides to retire, the Patriots are in business for years to come.