Considering Steve Belichick took part in defensive play-calling for the New England Patriots in 2019, could he be next in line for the head coach position?
Steve Belichick has won three Super Bowls (XLIX, LI, LIII) as a coach with the Patriots and was appointed the responsibilities of the safeties coaching position, which he has held since 2016.
But as of last year — and on top of coaching the safeties — we saw that [Steve] Belichick also took part in calling in the defensive plays alongside inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.
The two young coaches called a great defensive scheme in 2019 that started off the season leading the NFL and would end up producing the Defensive Player of the Year in cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Having sound defensive playcallers has allowed [Bill] Belichick to put more of his focus on other parts of the team — more specifically, the offense.
As much as the general manager in [Bill] Belichick values building longevity within the players of his teams, perhaps it seems he could be starting to think about where the direction of the team is going to be when he decides to one day retire.
In doing so, [Bill] Belichick the “GM” could be prepping the successors of his coaching staff for what could be in the very near future.
We all remember what happened in 2018 with Josh McDaniels and the Indianapolis Colts. McDaniels ultimately rescinded his acceptance to become the next head coach of the Colts because [Bill] Belichick reportedly told him that he was going to “open his world to him,” thus proving that McDaniels is in the future plans for the Patriots.
As transcribed by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, this is what was said to McDaniels for him to remain the coordinator in New England two years ago:
"“They say, would you consider staying if we did this? And the big question is what is this? There were two things I’m told that really made Josh McDaniels shift here. No. 1, Bill Belichick said to him, ‘I want you to be by my side. I am going to open my world to you. Show you how I view roster building, how I look at financials and the salary cap.’ To McDaniels, who is 41 years old, the chance to be with Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all-time, 65 years old, to have that opportunity was viewed as to be extremely valuable to him.”"
After hearing this plea from the Patriots, it’s fair to assume that [Bill] Belichick has all intentions of showing McDaniels the ropes in regards to situational play-calling as a head coach, as well as the fundamentals about the salary cap and roster-building from a general manager’s perspective.
When you look at it from this angle, all signs point towards McDaniels becoming the one-day successor to Bill Belichick — which would be the ultimate “Patriot Way” decision to make.
With that being said, McDaniels is the most tenured of the current coaches and is also the most qualified candidate to be the next head coach for the New England Patriots one day.
But given the way [Steve] Belichick has accelerated with his own progressions as a football coach, some people are under the assumption that he will one day be the successor to his own father and become the next head coach of the New England Patriots.
Mike Florio and Chris Simms, hosts of NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk Live, seem to believe that the younger Belichick is rising upwards in the coaching ranks past McDaniels.
This is part of the conversation between Florio and Simms on what they had to say about the coaching scenario in New England:
"“This was the first year I started to get a sense Steve could take over for Bill, not Josh McDaniels.” – Mike Florio“I feel like that is why Josh McDaniels got into the head coaching conversation, that maybe he saw a little bit of the writing on the wall that, ‘Woo, Steve Belichick is rising up the ranks and I might be the one without a seat here. Added to the fact that I think there are a number of people in football that look at it right now and think Belichick kind of screwed over Josh McDaniels with the coaching hires this year anyway — making him stay in the building, didn’t let him go down to Carolina and interview, never got a chance to interview with the New York Giants. So, those are things I look at too and go. ‘Man, how can Josh be happy with Bill Belichick at this point now?’ I think that would favor Steve Belichick even more.” – Chris Simms"
It’s worth mentioning that Simms spent a year working with the Patriots as an offensive assistant in 2012, which is the same year [Steve] Belichick began his coaching career in New England as well.
"“I was around Steve a little bit. He’s smart. He’s a really hard worker. I think he’s trying to stay in his father’s shadow — not to be a kiss ass or anything like that, but he wants to learn truly every little thing his dad is thinking about during a week or before a game.” – Chris Simms"
Looking at the current coaches on Bill Belichick’s staff — and despite losing multiple coaches over the last few seasons — he has created a versatile group of well-rounded football minds that have experience in all aspects of the inner-workings of a football team, as well as a handful of guys who have won prior Super Bowl championships with the Patriots:
- Josh McDaniels- Offensive Coordinator
- Ivan Fears- Running Backs
- Mick Lombardi- Wide Receivers
- Jedd Fisch- Quarterbacks
- Nick Caley- Tight Ends
- DeMarcus Covington- Outside Linebackers
- Jerod Mayo- Inside Linebackers (Also called in defensive plays in 2019)
- Mike Pellegrino- Cornerbacks
- Stephen Belichick- Secondary/Safeties (Also called in defensive plays in 2019)
As it does with the players, the “next man up” mantra applies to the coaching staff as well — which is how the dynamic of this staff has been designed. This group of coaches are almost interchangeable in certain ways based on just being in the system for a period of time.
The picture I’m trying to paint is that [Bill] Belichick’s current staff includes coaches who are capable of being coordinators or already have been coordinators/coaches prior to being in New England.
For example, if McDaniels was to become the successor to [Bill] Belichick in the near future, then Fisch could move to offensive coordinator, while [Steve] Belichick could be given the real title of defensive coordinator.
The New England Patriots have a history of building from within and will give their current staff a promotion and more responsibilities on the team rather than go searching for a coach from the outside.
All in all, I believe that McDaniels still has the obvious desire to be a head coach in the NFL. At this point, his best chance of doing so might only be if he becomes the successor to Bill Belichick for the New England Patriots.
As previously mentioned, [Bill] Belichick said that he was going to open up his football world to McDaniels.
As he turned 68 years old in April, this will be Bill Belichick’s 46th year as an NFL coach and his 21st season with the Patriots. It’s hard to believe that McDaniels would have rescinded his acceptance from the Colts if he didn’t think he would one day become the next head coach of New England, but those plans might get dashed if Steve Belichick continues his rise.