New York Giants

In 'The Two Bills', Belichick offers heartfelt thanks to Parcells

In 'The Two Bills', Belichick offers heartfelt thanks to Parcells

FOXBORO - When ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary on Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells, "The Two Bills," airs Thursday night, it may provide some insight on what goes on behind the scenes with the Patriots' top three coaches when they aren't planning for their next game. 

One of the piece's most fascinating exchanges came when Belichick and Parcells - being interviewed together for the first time since 1991 - discussed the end of the 1990 season, when it was apparent Belichick would soon be a head coach. Parcells said in the interview that he knew Belichick was ready, and Belichick thanked Parcells for preparing him for what he'd face as he climbed the final rung on the coaching ladder. It was the ultimate sign of mutual respect. 

"I felt like Bill was certainly deserving of anything I could do to help him get ready," Parcells said. "We had, I think, a few conversations about several different subjects, and I would explain to him why I was doing things."

Belichick considered those conversations invaluable.

"It was really important," he said. "And I so appreciated what you did, Bill. I can't tell you... 

"It would just be periodically, he'd say, 'Hey come on into my office,' and I'd go in there and Bill would say, 'Here's something that I just want to make you aware of what's going on.' 

"Look, you're the defensive coordinator. You're not involved in the draft. Or maybe a player's got a discipline problem or a contract problem. Whatever it is. You're oblivious to that, really, as an assistant coach. But Bill would call me in and say, 'Here's something that's going on.'

"I really appreciate those times that you did that. It was very helpful to open my eyes and open my horizons to some things that I really wasn't paying that much attention to."

Belichick now finds himself in a position similar to the one Parcells was in at the end of the '90 season, though Belichick has two coordinators who are assumed to be leaving for head coaching positions after the season. 

Based on Belichick's appreciation for Parcells' mentorship in the documentary, it would make sense that over the years Belichick has done similar things for Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels in order to prepare them for their next step. 

We know that before McDaniels took his first head-coaching job with the Broncos in 2009, Belichick provided McDaniels with a coaching "bible" and the two met periodically in the 2008 season to discuss different aspects of being a head coach. Since 2012, when both McDaniels and Patricia were named to their current posts, both have been interviewed several times for head jobs around the league, which means these tutoring sessions have probably been going on for some time now for both Belichick acolytes.  

This particular "30 for 30," directed by Ken Rogers and produced by NFL Films, also may offer a window into why neither Patricia nor McDaniels is looking to stick in New England to eventually replace Belichick. After what happened with the Jets in the late 1990s, with Belichick waiting to take the reins from Parcells and never getting them, which the documentary covers thoroughly, it would stand to reason that Belichick would have no interest in being involved in a succession plan that didn't time out perfectly for all parties involved.

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With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential

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With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential

News about the Patriots coordinators over the past 24 hours is far from a shock.

And it’s not really news if you’ve been sticking with us over the past couple weeks.

 

(Yes, as a matter of fact, I did hurt my arm patting myself on the back…)

MORE - Pats don't need to apologize for anything

The Colts have been the preferred destination for Josh McDaniels since this started. Aside from geography, there was very little recommend the 3-13 Giants over the 9-7 Detroit Lions for Matt Patricia. Unless a chastened, meddling owner, an infant-laden locker room and a quarterback headed for the glue factory would be selling points for you, you’d go to Detroit 10 times out of 10 to stay out of that the Jints morass.

How will these acorns from the Belichick Tree fare?

It’s hard to even project. Depending on Andrew Luck’s shoulder, Indy’s either in semi-rebuild or headed for a full reboot. The Lions have the pieces in place but Patricia is in his first time around as a head coach. For a dozen years, he’s peeked over his shoulder to see if Bill Belichick approved of every on-the-record comment he’s made.

Fly free now, little bearded bird!

For both guys, it’s time. What else is left to prove in New England?

If you take a long, realistic look at the Patriots roster as they prepare for the AFC Championship – what’s the sense in sticking around until things get rocky?

The best core players are near or past 30 (Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Matt Slater, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Tom Brady). Two that aren’t - Donta Hightower and Rob Gronkowski – have fairly long injury histories and even if Gronk’s turned the corner, his contract is up in 2019.

Bill Belichick might be done in 12 months. He might be done in five years.

More than what’s “wrong” or insufficient in New England, though, is the simple fact of professional advancement and fulfillment. Challenge yourself. Make a bunch more money. Who knows, if you’re McDaniels, maybe you follow the same trajectory as Belichick and win five Super Bowls.

The “brain drain” can be stanched at the coordinator level by simple elevations of current assistants. Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea are the likeliest candidates. But there are other places it can flow. 

Every coach that departs a program needs lieutenants to bring with him who can pass on his vision to the team he’ll lead.

Fortunately, the GMs in Detroit and Indy – Bob Quinn and Chris Ballard – already have their economic and personnel philosophies in place. But, generally, coaches like to bring with the players who are can interpret and serve as go-betweens. 

Over his first two seasons in New England, Belichick brought aboard Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, Bobby Hamilton, Roman Phifer, Antonio Langham and Otis Smith. He also brought coaches like Eric Mangini and front-office execs like Scott Pioli. 

And the outflow was what got sticky when Mangini left to coach the Jets and was perceived by Belichick to be pilfering players and coaches before he was even out of Gillette Stadium. 

Here’s a list of the Patriots who’ll be up at the end of this season. Here are the ones who’ll be up at the end of the 2018 season. Highlighting the list of guys expiring after 2019 is Brady.

You can rest assured McDaniels and Patricia are both familiar with all those names.

Before anyone goes anywhere, the 2017 Patriots have a chance to add another line to everyone’s resume. In years past, the interview process didn’t seem to hinder either man because they were both coming back. Now, with both coordinators committed to leaving, we’ll see how well the balance is struck.

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Reports: McDaniels, Vrabel finalists for Colts job, Flores to Cards?

Reports: McDaniels, Vrabel finalists for Colts job, Flores to Cards?

Bill Belichick could be losing his two coordinators and linebackers coach as his Patriots assistants continue to be at the top of NFL head coaching candidate lists.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is reportedly one of two finalists for the Indianapolis Colts head coaching job and Pats linebackers coach Brian Flores is reported to be "very much in play" to be the next Arizona Cardinals head coach.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated's MMQB.com, and an analyst on NBC Sports Boston's Pregame Live, reported that McDaniels and former Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel, now the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, are the final two in the running for the Colts job. 

Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted about Flores Saturday.

The New York Post reported Friday that McDaniels, Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur are finalists for the New York Giants head coaching job. The New York Daily News reported earlier in the week that all signs pointed to Patricia getting the Giants job. In addition, Patricia had been rumored to be the leading candidate for the Detroit Lions head coaching job.