New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is a guy many New York Giants fans would like to become the team's next head coach. "The Beard" has a bit of a cult following, it seems, and fans of the Giants apparently aren't the only ones calling for Patricia. Same story with Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has not been interviewed yet but is still mentioned as a possible candidate for the Giants if the search goes on long enough.
Let's talk about Patricia, McDaniels and the Bill Belichick coaching tree.
First, Patricia. In no way is anything in this post going to be meant to be anti-Patricia. Listen, the guy is an engineer and he's smarter than I am. I live 10 minutes from the RPI campus and having an NFL coach from my hometown would be pretty cool. At least cool is the word people from my generation use. Substitute whatever word folks from your generation use. We mean the same thing. Shoot, I was sports editor of the local paper here when Patricia was a player for RPI. So, yeah, I would love to see the guy get a head-coaching job.
But, what do we actually know about the guy's coaching ability? Nothing. Don't tell me, oh he's been New England defensive coordinator for four years now, the Patriots are awesome and that makes him awesome.
Romeo Crennel used to be Belichick's defensive coordinator in New England. He's been a terrible NFL coach with a 28-55 overall record (.337 winning percentage) and one winning season in six full years.
Eric Mangini was thought to be a Belichick clone when he was the defensive coordinator for the Pats. He's been a monumental flop in head-coaching stints with the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
McDaniels was awful in less than two full seasons with the Broncos, going 11-17 and getting canned before his second season was completed. Face it, NFL coaches don't get fired midseason unless they are a disaster. McDaniels may have learned from that, but how do we know? He could be great, but can we be sure? Do you want the Giants to risk the rest of Eli Manning's career on it?
Look further at the Belichick coaching tree.
Charlie Weis? Had nine and 10-win seasons in his first two years at Notre Dame, went 16-21 in his final three years, then went 6-22 in less than three years at Kansas. Is anybody beating down his door these days?
Bill O'Brien? Provided some stability at Penn State during a difficult time, but do we really know what kind of NFL coach he is yet? He has had back-to-back nine-win seasons with the Houston Texans, but if you watched the Texans' playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs you know O'Brien has made a mess of the Houston quarterback situation.
Point is, the Belichick magic doesn't necessarily come with the package when you hire a Belichick assistant to run your team. Some coaches win because they hire the right coordinators and position coaches. The only constant in New England is Belichick. He wins no matter who the assistant coaches are.
There are common denominators between the coaching trees of Belichick and Bill Parcells, but the only really successful ones are from the Parcells line (Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Mike Zimmer, Todd Bowles).
Maybe O'Brien, McDaniels, and Patricia will be the guys to change that. We don't know yet. Just realize that simply because these guys have learned from Belichick doesn't mean they can be Belichick.