It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since head coach Bill Belichick took over here in New England, and obviously considering what’s transpired over that span, fans have definitely been spoiled.
We’ve seen over a decade of football that’s included three championships, an undefeated regular season, and 10 straight winning seasons. New England has had only one losing season (Belichick’s first year in 2000 where they finished 5-11), and have an overall regular season record of 126-50 during that span.
That’s a lot of winning, and any fans who have jumped on the bandwagon during the last 10-years should really understand just how lucky they’ve been to witness a lot of the great moments that they’ve been treated to since he’s been here.
Belichick’s been a part of football for a long time, starting as an assistant for the Baltimore Colts back in 1975, and working his way up from there as a positional coach with the Lions (1977), Broncos (1978), and Giants (1979-1984) before eventually moving up to becoming a defensive coordinator for the Giants and later a head coach in Cleveland. From there he ended up in New England for his first tenure here with then head coach Bill Parcells.
After departing with Parcells after the 1996 season, he spent a couple years with the Jets before Patriots owner Robert Kraft managed to take him away from the Jets at the cost of a first-round draft pick in the 2000 draft.
It ended up being one of the best decisions Kraft ever made, and Patriots fans and this region have definitely enjoyed every minute of it.
The second best decision came when Belichick selected Tom Brady in the sixth round of that same draft. With Brady’s help, Belichick went on to create quite a legacy during his tenure here in New England. Despite all the annual personnel changes that are always discussed, the one constant during this span has always been Belichick and Brady. It’s the one thing that keeps fans going every offseason, because they know as long as those two guys are here, this team has a shot at being competitive enough where something special could happen – much like it did when it happened for the first time in 2001.
The day will come where Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick will no longer be on the Patriots sidelines here in New England. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Obviously like everything else, it won’t last forever. The young fiery Brady we saw early on is now a mature seasoned veteran on the back half of an amazing career, and eventually he’ll reach a point where he’ll either be done with the game, or – like every other tough decision we’ve seen – the team will be forced to make that decision for him.
The only thing we don’t know is when that day will be, but it will come.
Belichick alluded to that point recently when talking about linebacker Jerod Mayo after the media was asking about whether or not Mayo could become an outside linebacker in this scheme.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t really see that,” said Belichick. “Maybe the next coach can put him there, I don’t know. But I think he’s going to play off the line of scrimmage and he’s going to play in the tackle box somewhere.”
The “next coach”… that’s just a scary thought.
Mayo is 25, and if all goes well will be in the league for another 8-10 years depending on his health and obviously other factors. Assuming Mayo remained with New England for the duration of his career, at that point – if he continued to coach – Belichick would be at least 67 years old. Brady would be in his 40’s, and owner Robert Kraft would be nearly 80.
In all likelihood Belichick’s probably not planning to be here that long, and likely has something planned to enjoy life with his family after football. He’s already been involved in the game for over 35 years, and he’s certainly done more than enough to leave his mark on it. When the day finally comes where he decides to move on, he’ll leave behind more than a decade of plenty of amazing memories here in New England for fans to look back on.
But hearing the words “next coach” is probably tough for most fans to hear. Unfortunately that day will eventually come, which means fans need to try and enjoy these final years of what will likely be remembered as probably the greatest era in the history of this franchise.