Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Shout out to Coach Buzz Williams for passing this article on to me.  If you're not following Coach Williams on twitter you are really missing out.  The article was written about Bill Belichick for the Washington Post by Adam Kilgore.  It's a lengthy, well-written article and you can read it in its entirety here but I wanted to share some of my take aways.

Coach Belichick is a forward-thinking individual.  He has no time to think about pass accomplishments or failure.  He is about coaching and living in the moment.

He was asked what was the most important thing he had done over those four decades to evolve as a coach.

Belichick looked up from the questioner, gazed at the back of the room, and replied, “I don’t know.” He snorted. He stared. The room waited for him to say something else. He didn’t.

Belichick has left it to others to fill in the blanks behind his gloomy facade, and the effects of his success — admiration, animosity, loyalty, jealously — have created wildly divergent portraits. 

Coach Belichick, despite being at the top of his profession is a driven, continual learner which goes a long way to explain why he has been able to stay at the top:
People close to him describe a reliable friend, a voracious learner, an ardent student of the game, a man whose grim public demeanor hides sharp intelligence and understated humor. He engenders loyalty with both surprising kindness and utmost competence. “As a player, what more do you want?” former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy said. “You don’t want that fluffy [stuff]. He just wanted us to be focused on ball.”
Supporters, associates and former players say Belichick has adapted with a wickedly dexterous mind and a curious bent. “Probably the story of his career, from my vantage point, would be his attitude toward learning,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, a Belichick confidante. Belichick once told his college economics professor that what he studied in class helped him stay under the salary cap. (“That’s an application of marginalism,” said Dick Miller, the professor.) His current defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, was a rocket scientist before he became a football coach. Belichick seeks. He listens.
“It’s really amazing when you think about it: He’s been coaching longer than any player on this team has been alive,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “That says something about his leadership, the way he learns. The way he views the game is very unique. He’s been able to stay ahead of the curve because of the mind the good Lord has given him for football.”
And how's this for the being a servant leader:
For nearly three decades as a coach in the NFL, Belichick had divined creative solutions to complex problems, the skill that fueled his rise from playing center at Wesleyan to coaching at the top of the sport. On the day the Patriots arrived in New Orleans for his first Super Bowl as a head coach in late January 2002, he confronted a problem without precedent in his career: Milloy, his star safety, wanted a new hotel room.
At a walk-through practice, Milloy explained to Belichick that he had heard first-year defensive tackle Richard Seymour beaming about how spacious his room was. Milloy could barely squeeze luggage into his. What was up with a rookie scoring a bigger room than a veteran? “Really, Lawyer?” Belichick responded. Belichick was already trying to prepare a two-touchdown underdog to face the St. Louis Rams; he didn’t need another headache.
When Milloy returned to the team hotel after practice, a concierge greeted him with a key to a new room: “Big as hell,” Milloy recalled, and with a panoramic view of Bourbon Street, a Jacuzzi and, oddly, a treadmill in the corner.
At the Patriots’ team dinner that night, Belichick approached Milloy. “How do you like that room, Lawyer?” Belichick asked.
“It’s cool,” Milloy replied. “But I don’t know why they put that treadmill in there.
“That’s because it was my room,” Belichick said.
One of the things that makes Belichick a better leader while assisting him in his quest for knowledge -- he's a great listener:
“I hate to think what his IQ is,” Rick Forzano said. “He looks beyond what’s happening.”
“Bill’s always moving forward,” said Al Groh, an assistant alongside Belichick with the New York Giants. “He’s not just thinking about this season. What is distinguishingly unique for somebody who is very bright and on top is he’s a terrific listener. He’s interested in anybody and everybody’s opinion because out of that might come a good idea. That was the case even when he knew he wanted to do.”
The great ones are always looking for ways to improve and not sit status quo:
In the spring of 2007, Belichick — a better lacrosse player than football player at Wesleyan — called Johns Hopkins lacrosse Coach Dave Pietramala to congratulate him on winning the national championship. They talked on the phone for an hour. Later, after an awards banquet both men attended, they met at a restaurant afterward and chatted for three hours. Pietramala realized Belichick had as many questions for him as he did for Belichick. They still talk or text weekly.
“The amazing thing to me with Coach, he’s always in search of a way to do things better,” Pietramala said. “I’m really taken back at how inquisitive he is about lots of different things. It doesn’t have to be in coaching. If we have a guest speaker, he wants to know, what did he talk about? What was good about it? For a guy who’s extraordinarily bright, extraordinarily successful, he’s always searching for a better way, a different way.”
 Championship level coaches understand the importance of details:
“He knew everything,” Evans said. “Literally. He knew every detail. There was instant accountability, every second of the day. Bill just knew everything. It was scary sometimes.”
One season during his tenure in Cleveland, Browns coaches met with Chicago Bears coaches to swap notes about teams in their respective divisions. “I swear, he knew more about Tampa than the Bears, who played them twice,” said Ferentz, then Belichick’s offensive line coach. “Their guys were looking at us like, ‘Holy smokes.’ ”
Belichick prepares for everything. During staff meetings, he asks questions about a tactic an opposing coach used a decade prior. During Super Bowl XLVI, in 2012, the Patriots’ headsets malfunctioned in the second half, leading to harmful miscommunication. And so, in the week leading into last season’s Super Bowl, Belichick stopped practice and shouted for the coaches to drop their headsets.
The best coaches know how to challenge and, in turn, prepare their players and team:
During practice, he can spot a fullback missing a block out of the corner of his eye, halt the drill and correct the mistake himself.
“It’s still mind-boggling how I sat there and watch that take place,” said former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest, now an NFL Network analyst. “He would break down both sides of the ball and be instrumental in planning every phase of the game. Other coaches can’t do that. That’s just amazing to me, having been in the league 15 years.”
Playing for Belichick can be stressful. Evans would pass him in a hallway or the locker room, and Belichick would present a situation and play and ask him, “What is their linebacker going to be thinking?”
The strict standard also brought comfort. Players understand their role with uncommon clarity, and they trust Belichick’s detailed instructions will reap success. “Playing for Belichick was the most pressure-packed and most peaceful experience of my career,” Evans said.
“He’ll put it up on the board,” McGinest said. “He’ll say, ‘This is what’s going to happen. This is how they’re going to attack you. If you do X, Y and Z, you’ll be okay.’ And it seems like every single week, it happens. So it’s not hard to play in that system.”