Now more than ever, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick undoubtedly has all the motivation he needs to continue doing what he loves.
After 20 years of unprecedented dominance, the New England Patriots are experiencing as much uncertainty as they have in the last two decades. The legendary coach-quarterback duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady has been broken up, with 20-year Patriot and all-time great Brady fleeing to Tampa Bay for the 2020 NFL season.
It’s a time of change in Foxborough … but the show must go on.
With the departure of New England’s long-time on-field leader, more pressure has been placed on its sideline mastermind. The entire operation is in his hands, and the future of the franchise rests solely on his shoulders.
Entering his 26th year as an NFL head coach, Bill Belichick has never faced a more daunting task.
The mission isn’t an easy one, but if anyone could continue the legacy forged at One Patriot Place, it would be the man who started it.
Belichick’s numbers speak for themselves. Among every coach to ever roam the sidelines, he ranks fourth in total games (400), third in total wins (273), tied for second in playoff berths (18), and first in playoff games (43), playoff wins (31), conference titles (9), and Super Bowl championships (6).
His resume is among the best ever, and his spot on the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches is all but guaranteed.
The question around the league is: What more is there for Belichick to aim for? As he embarks on as much of a fresh start as he has had in decades, what keeps him motivated?
Simply put, Bill Belichick is wired differently. He is never satisfied; his thirst for victory never fully quenched. The metrics may seem clear, but his quest for greatness goes much deeper than wins and losses.
As much as he denies it in public, Belichick undoubtedly thinks about the comparisons that have been and will be made between him and other legends of the game.
Until he truly proves his supremacy, his name will forever be tossed into debates about his ranking among NFL greats and his status in the Patriots hierarchy over the last 20 years. There’s a place deep in Bill Belichick’s brain that knows this, and that’s what fuels him.
On the list of the NFL’s best coaches, Belichick doesn’t want to be a subject in an endless struggle to determine the greatest coach ever. He wants to be the unanimous superior over Don Shula, Tom Landry, and every other coach in the record books.
If this means coaching until he passes Shula’s 328 total wins, he’ll do it. He’s 55 wins away from Shula’s record-setting mark, so that title could be attainable through six years of going 10-6 on average, or five years averaging 11-5.
Closer to Foxborough, fans and experts alike will always question whether Belichick or Brady meant more to the Patriots’ decades of success, reaching nine Super Bowls and winning six in just 18 years.
Comparisons will be drawn between Belichick’s Patriots and Brady’s Buccaneers in the short term, but the more telling evidence will come well beyond Brady’s playing career. If Belichick can find consistent success without Brady at the helm, he may be able to prove that elite coaching was the backbone in New England all along.
As nice as it would be to put a number on the remaining length of Belichick’s career, it’s very difficult to create a timeline for more qualitative goals such as these. There is really no telling how long it will take for the NFL audience to view Belichick as the clear-cut coaching GOAT or the obvious architect of the Patriots’ dynasty.
As his career continues, though, the 68-year old Belichick only further disproves his initial plan to retire before age 70. He will coach until he feels his point has been made and his name sits above all others.
The New England Patriots are in good hands for the foreseeable future, because their coach doesn’t just want to win.
He needs to win.