ESPN SportsNation had an interesting poll running on their website: Who will be remembered as a better coach? The two choices voters had to choose from were Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Both coaches played a significant role in each other’s careers. Bill Parcells served as a mentor to Bill Belichick and hired him to be his defensive coordinator with the Giants, brought him to New England after Belichick’s unsuccessful stint in New England, and carried him to he Jets when he left New England. Belichick’s gameplan for the Giants’ defense against the Buffalo Bills in 1990 won the G-Men the Super Bowl that year. His gameplan was so good that it is currently sitting in the NFL Hall of Fame. Belichick was on Parcells’ staff as a special assistant/secondary coach in 1996 when the Pats lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl. In other words, Parcells has never been to, or won, a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick on his staff. Belichick, as we all know, has guided the Patriots to four Super Bowls, winning three and going undefeated in the regular season.
Let’s compare the two Hall-of-Fame coaches.
However, there may not be a “New England Patriots” without Bill Parcells. There may have never been a team here for Bill Belichick to guide to three championships. Before Parcells joined the team, it had only one win the previous season and was in danger of packing up and moving to a new location. Bill Parcells, along with owner Robert Kraft, built the organization and also drafted many of the players that would later become the cornerstones of the Dynasty. Many forget that it was Parcells who drafted Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy (for the first Super Bowl), Ted Johnson, and Troy Brown. If not for the trio of Kraft, Parcells, and QB Drew Bledsoe, we could be talking about the St. Louis Patriots. Parcells has also had success building/rebuilding the Jets, Cowboys, and now Dolphins organizations.
Bill Belichick helped Parcells win his only two Super Bowls as a member if his coaching staff. After leaving the Jets to coach the Pats, Belichick took what strong players were left behind from the Parcells years and added his own players to build a championship organization that has been a contender since 2001. In his first Super Bowl as a head coach, he slowed down the “Greatest Show on Turf” and won the Patriots’ organization its first championship. The following championships in 2003 and 2004, the Pats went in the favorites and came out victorious. For the run between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, the Patriots set a new record in consecutive wins at 21 until the Colts broke that streak this past season. In 2007, the team went undefeated in the regular season, breaking offensive records before losing in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
Both coaches have had their share of controversies. Bill Parcells’ interviews with the media are legendary (and quite entertaining), and he would use interviews to call out players. He often referred to WR Terry Glenn as “she” in press conferences. After the 1996 Super Bowl, Parcells did not fly back with the team as he had already concluded that he was jumping ship to the Jets. Anyone who watched the game could see that Parcells was not his usual animated self on the sidelines during the Super Bowl, and he looked disconnected from the game. I was a freshman in high school at the time and I can remember commenting to my father that Parcells didn’t look like he was into the game. Little did I know at the time that he was jumping ship. Bill Belichick, of course, was fined and the team lost a first-round draft pick for the infamous SpyGate incident.
Over at the Boston Globe’s “Extra Points” blog, Albert Breer weighs in on the Belichick vs. Parcells debate and credits Belichick as the better coach, but acknowledges that Parcells is the better organization builder. ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss makes his determination as to who will be remembered as the better coach by the amount of Super Bowl rings won, giving the nod to Belichick. In a dream scenario, Bill Parcells would serve as a team’s Director of Football Operations and have Bill Belichick as its head coach. However, the question posed in the poll was based solely on coaching, so I have to give the nod to Bill Belichick. Overall, he has been the most successful. He has the rings to show for it along with a decade of success. He has also taken a team that may not have been the most talented on paper to a championship. He has also made some legendary decisions, with both positive and negative. When someone mentions Belichick’s coaching prowess, the first thing that comes to my mind is Nov. 3, 2003. In a Monday night game at Denver, Belichick has his long snapper Lonie Paxton snap the ball out of the endzone, taking an intentional safety to improve field position. The gamble worked and the team went on to win the game. The most recent gamble, the 4th-and-1 call against Indy, did not work out in the team’s favor as Indy got the ball back with tremendous field position and the ability to run out the clock. However, my therapist said I can’t talk about that game so I’ll stop there
So who did the fans choose in the SportsNation poll? Bill Belichick is victor, winning 57% of the vote to Bill Parcells’ 43%.