Walter Payton or Jim Brown, Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas….
Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick?
Belichick is the better coach, some say. He has three Lombardi Trophy’s under his belt, and Parcells has two.
So, Trent Dilfer is a better quarterback than Dan Marino?
With all due respect to Dilfer, I’d prefer Marino under center.
Let’s take a look
Parcells took over a struggling Giants’ team in 1983, replacing Ray Perkins who had left to coach at his Alma-Mater in Alabama. Within four years Parcells delivered New Yorks’ first Lombardi Trophy in 1986, and added another in 1990 – quite an accomplishment for a coach that had to contend with the likes of Mike Ditka, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Walsh every year to reach the top of the NFC Mountain.
By the time Parcells left New York after the conclusion of the 1991 season, he had delivered two Super Bowl titles and three division championships.
After a two-year hiatus, Parcells took over the Patriots in 1993, replacing Dick MacPherson and picking New England up off of the NFL scrap heap. Parcells turned them into a Super Bowl contender within four years of a 2-14 record before his arrival.
Coincidentally, when Belichick took over in 2000, 15 players from the Parcells regime remained on the roster, including veterans Drew Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Teddy Bruschi, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, and Adam Vinatieri.
After disagreements with Robert Kraft regarding personnel decisions, Parcells came back to Gotham City to right the Jets’ ship after Rich Kotite posted a 4-28 record in two disastrous seasons as head coach.
Once again Parcells took a laughing stock of a football franchise and brought them back to respectability, taking them to the AFC Championship game and giving the eventual Superbowl Champion Broncos all they could handle.
Fast forward to 2003 – after suffering a third 5-11 campaign, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones reeled in The Tuna. His investment paid off quickly as Dallas posted ten wins and a post-season birth, losing to the eventual NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. In doing so, Parcells becomes the first head coach in NFL history to guide four different teams to the post season.
In 2006 Parcells brought the Cowboys back to the post season again, replacing Drew Bledsoe with virtual unknown Tony Romo in Week Seven, and coming within a botched field goal attempt of advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs.
At the end of the day, Parcells took over four different franchises that had been in the gutter, and turned all four into playoff-caliber teams in no more than two years of his tenure—something that no other coach can say.
Bill Belichick has all but secured his position as one of the greatest coaches of modern history, suffering only one losing season during his tenure to date in New England, going 5-11 in his first year. From 2001 to 2007, Belichick brought his team to the Super Bowl four times, winning three, and performing the unthinkable—building a dynasty in the modern day era of the salary cap and free agency.
His game planning against the St Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf” in Superbowl XXXVI was genius. While most opposing defensive coordinators had tried in vain to blitz Kurt Warner and force throws underneath, Belichick blitzed sporadically, often showing blitz and dropping additional defenders back in coverage to clog passing lanes and limit yards-after-catch.
A Rams’ offense that most considered to be unstoppable and averaged 31 points-per-game was brought down to Earth and held to 17 points overall. New England capitalized on three Rams’ turnovers and cashed them in for 17 points, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-winner from 48 yards out. Belichick’s defense accomplished what many said could not be done—control the Rams’ explosive offense, force turnovers, and beat them on artificial turf.
Belichick’s offenses are efficient, well-oiled machines that methodically drive downfield. While they are capable of the quick strike, their calling card usually consists of carefully scripted plays—each setting up the next—that consistently move the chains into the red zone. Defensively his blitz packages and diverse coverage schemes are always cutting edge innovation and duplicated by many.
Both coaches’ teams consist of “lunch pail guys”, old-school throwbacks that bring their lunch pails to work every day. Usually their teams are void of attention-seeking superstars. Discipline is stressed in both camps; conservative, mistake-free football with sound fundamentals.
Both like defenders with size up front, and both are intelligent enough to alter their schemes to their personnel when they know that they don’t have the players to match their preferred defensive alignments.
Belichick is a first-ballot Hall-Of-Famer, but has benefitted from the luxury of consistency, and the support of Parcells early on in his career. Some also point to the “Spy-gate” issue as compromising his reputation.
Parcells picked four different teams up off of the floor, dusted them off, and turned them into respectable, playoff-caliber franchises—a unique accomplishment that no other coach has achieved.
Both have rightfully cemented their place in NFL history, but if my football team is a perennial cellar-dweller, and I have to rebuild from the ground up, I’m going with The Tuna.
And if you tell me that Belichick is the better coach because he has more Lombardi Trophy’s….
Explain to me how Brad Johnson was a better quarterback than Warren Moon.