Did Losing Super Bowl 52 Tarnish Bill Belichick’s Legacy?

Did losing tarnish Belichick's legacy?
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on prior to Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have won five of their eight Super Bowl appearances. Belichick is the only coach in NFL history to win five Super Bowl titles, and one of only three head coaches ever to win five NFL titles. The other two? Hall of Famers George Halas and Vince Lombardi. That’s not bad company. Remember, it was easier to win it all during Halas and Lombardi’s time. There were fewer teams, less travel and most importantly, player movement was almost non-existent. Let’s take a look at Belichick’s legacy.

Remember the Giants

Belichick took over as the Giants Defensive Coordinator in 1984 and from there developed one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. In 1990, Belichick and the defense carried the Giants to a Super Bowl 25 win by holding the 49ers to 13 points and holding the dominant 1990 Bills offense to 19 points. The Giants pulled the upset with a backup Quarterback Jeff Hostetler as the starter and they were significant underdogs in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl.

Belichick got the Browns to the playoffs!

The last time the Browns won a playoff game, Belichick was the Head Coach. People think that he failed in Cleveland, but in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. He brought the Browns out of the basement of the AFC Central in just a couple of years and in 1994, beat the Patriots and Parcells in an AFC Wild Card playoff game. The next year, the Browns were a Super Bowl favorite and sat at 6-2 halfway through the season when Art Modell announced the team was moving, and that announcement basically imploded the team.

The Patriot way

When Belichick arrived in New England, the Patriots were one year removed from Coach Pete Carroll and while I know Carroll has turned out to be a good coach, at that time he was in over his head. From there, Belichick has built a dynasty and he built that dynasty as the G.M. and the Head Coach, in most cases that combination doesn’t work out even for the best football minds.

Belichick’s first and most recent championships are separated by 16 years — the largest span in the Super Bowl era and second to the 30 years between the first (1933) and last championship (1963) won by Halas with the Bears. Lombardi and Joe Gibbs’ success were all within a decades time.

Super Bowls

Belichick’s first Super Bowl win was over “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The Patriots were enormous underdogs going into the game and remember, they were playing with a backup quarterback in Brady. The Patriots held that great offense to just 17 points. So when you combine Belichick’s defense in Super Bowl 25 and 36, they held two of the greatest defenses of all time to under 20 points in each game and won both with backup quarterbacks. That alone puts him towards the top of the list.

Super Bowl 52

Let’s start with the Patriots defense giving up 41 points. Is that Belichick’s fault? Going into the game, all you heard from the experts was that the Patriots were going to have trouble stopping Philadelphia’s RPO’s. Actually, the Patriots did a good job of defending those and the Eagles limited the RPO’s in the second half. The Eagles won this game because Nick Foles was on fire. It seemed like almost every throw was where it was supposed to be and sometimes that just happens. It’s called being in a zone and Foles was deep in that zone on Sunday. It’s not like the Eagles had receivers running wide open all game long, but Foles was just making pinpoint perfect throws and when that happens the only way to stop it is to hit the quarterback.

If you look at it that way, that would be Belichick’s fault for not getting better pass rushers either in the draft or free agency.

The decision to sit Malcom Butler was quite mystifying and while we don’t know the details, it’s difficult to go against Belichick’s track record.

Despite missing their two best receivers, Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks, the Patriots were very close to coming away with another Super Bowl trophy, and that is mostly because of Belichick.

Conclusion: Everybody likes to pile on when somebody who is at the top has a fall. But as we know, everybody thought that fall happened at the start of this season and yet Belichick, when the smoke had cleared, was still coaching in the Super Bowl. I don’t know if he will get the Patriots back there next year, but I wouldn’t bet against him!

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