Bill Belichick's Coaching Tree in New England: They're Finding Out It's Not Easy to Succeed Without


With Romeo Crennel’s recent promotion to interim head coach in Kansas City to replace ousted Todd Haley, and the chatter about Josh McDaniels as a possible replacement, it got me thinking: So, how are all those Bill Belichick disciples doing in the NFL? Belichick is widely viewed as the greatest football coaching mind of the last decade – even though I’m a Jets’ fan, and Belichick is as ornery as they come, I can’t deny his success – but all of his former assistants and coordinators who have left for head coaching jobs in the NFL have struggled.


Romeo Crennel: 24-40 in Cleveland. He’ll be 0-1 in Kansas City after Aaron Rodgers torches them this weekend.

Al Groh: 9-7 with the Jets for one season. Then, he left to coach at his alma mater, the University of Virginia. He has not returned to the NFL coaching ranks, nor is he expected to.

Josh McDaniels: 11-17. An epic disaster in Denver who was thought to have nuked the franchise … but it’s starting to look like he may have been onto something drafting Tim Tebow.

Eric Mangini: 33-48, with the Browns and Jets. He’s the only one of Belichick’s former coaches to reach the playoffs (0-1). He’s now working for ESPN where he’s apparently less prickly than he was as a head coach.

Nick Saban: 15-17. Famously flopped with the Dolphins and his exit was so ugly, I don’t see him returning to the NFL anytime soon.

Jim Schwartz: 16-29. Remember, he inherited a team that went 0-16 and needed work. He’s on track to get into the playoffs this year, and one could argue he has a better QB (in their prime) than any of Belichick’s other coaches had (Matt Stafford). I added “in their prime” in case some of you floated Favre while Mangini was with the Jets.

For those who are not mathematically inclined: a combined record of 108-158. One playoff appearance. I’m not going to go through and analyze every quarterback each of these coaches has had. I won’t go through and mock the GMs they’ve had, either. But I will note this: When Belichick first branched out from his master (Bill Parcells), he had a very rough go in Cleveland (36-44, 0-1 in the playoffs). He resigned.

I’d say the only upside here is for McDaniels and Schwartz. Why would Saban come back to the NFL? Groh is 67 and the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech. Can’t see him returning to the NFL. Will Mangini go the Herman Edwards route – like ESPN so much that it’s more fun/easier than coming back to coaching? Crennel seems better suited as a coordinator.

McDaniels might fall into the KC job – the Chiefs have some talent and did make the playoffs in 2010 – which would be a lot more attractive if Kansas City can somehow land Matt Barkley in the draft.

[PS – As Jason Lisk notes, Rick Venturi was an assistant coach of Belichick’s … in Cleveland. He was the defensive coordinator in 1995, replacing Nick Saban. Venturi went on to be an interim head coach with the Saints in 1996 and went 1-7.]