With the Patriots in their seventh straight AFC Championship Game, and their two lead assistants set to take on head coaching jobs in 2018, one of the NFL's most confounding questions is popping up again:
Why aren't Bill Belichick's assistants ever successful in the NFL away from New England?
Here in Indianapolis, that query is giving fans some pause as they prepare to welcome Josh McDaniels as the Colts' new head coach, and I'm sure it's being talked about in Detroit with Matt Patricia. Seven Belichick assistants (Patricia will make it eight once he takes the Lions gig) have landed NFL head coaching jobs over the years - Bill O’Brien (Houston), Josh McDaniels (Denver), Jim Schwartz (Detroit), Nick Saban (Miami), Eric Magini (NY Jets, Cleveland), Al Groh (NY Jets), and Romeo Crennel (Cleveland, Kansas City) - and none found/have found a ton of success. Here are the combined numbers:
Woof. When Bill O'Brien, the only coach in the Belichick coaching tree to make the playoffs multiple times, is the gold standard, then you know the tree is pretty bad.
Belichick's coaching tree has found success on the college level, though, with the obvious example of Nick Saban. O'Brien (Penn State), Groh (Wake Forest, Virginia), and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz also had some good seasons as college head coaches.
None of this means that McDaniels or Patricia are doomed to fail in 2018, but it is interesting to point out. Other Hall of Fame coaches like Bill Walsh (Mike Holmgren, George Seifert, Dennis Green), Bill Parcells (Belichick, Sean Payton, Tom Coughlin), and even Tony Dungy (Mike Tomlin, Jim Caldwell, Lovie Smith) have much more successful branches on their trees, with guys who coached in and won Super Bowls.