By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick has mystified the NFL so far in 2016, guiding the Patriots to a 3-0 record in three games without Tom Brady and even a game-and-a-half without second-string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. With a tough slate of opposing defenses and the backup QBs under center, many across the country were wondering how the head coach would navigate through these waters.
Inside the NFL’s new segment featuring Belichick mic’d up against the Houston Texans, which aired Tuesday night, showed a glimpse of his brilliance and serves to prove why he’s the best in the league and can find a way to win no matter how much you stack the deck against him.
The clip opens with Belichick greeting former Patriots Vince Wilfork and Romeo Crennel before showing his evaluation of quarterback Jacoby Brissett, when the coach said “looks a little wild here in warmups.” He and Josh McDaniels agreed Brissett would be “fine,” though, which he was. It was remarkable how calm and confident Belichick appeared, even with his third-string quarterback starting and looking shaky before the game.
Later on, after fumbling around with a malfunctioning tablet, Belichick goes to Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge and asks him what he’s thinking of doing on the ensuing kickoff. Judge asks if they should “bang this next one” through the end zone, to which Belichick replies, “Nope. Make ’em run it.”
Sure enough, the ball came out on the kickoff and the Patriots recovered.
The rookie Brissett generated buzz for his performance in his first career start on a short week, and also for giving the ball to Belichick after scoring his first career touchdown. It turns out that when Brissett handed Belichick the ball, he said, “Ball security.” If that doesn’t tell you how much Belichick values taking care of the ball then nothing does.
There’s also a glimpse of how detail-oriented Belichick is and how well he coaches up individual players in addition to the team as a unit. He yells “Cy! Jam 10!” presumably telling cornerback Cyrus Jones to jam Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins at the line of scrimmage. The Patriots held Hopkins to just four catches on eight targets for 56 yards in the game. Belichick also turns to running back LeGarrette Blount and instructs him to “Just hammer it in behind that double-team block.” It appears Blount followed that advice, fancy editing or not, as he eventually powered through for a 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The segment followed with Inside The NFL host James Brown and analysts Boomer Esiason, Michael Irvin, and Jets receiver Brandon Marshall discussing Belichick’s legacy in the league. (Marshall is always an odd addition to the show considering he’s still an active player, but I digress.) Irvin uses the whole segment to ask, “What does this mean for the great Tom Brady’s legacy?” to which an incredulous Marshall calls him out. He then apologizes to “Jets Nation” before proclaiming Belichick as the greatest coach of all time.
Marshall knows what’s up. It’s the combination of Belichick and Brady that has led to six Super Bowl appearances with four wins and consistent dominance in the AFC East. But these first three games – and these clips – have certainly reaffirmed Belichick’s undisputed greatness and lofty status in the history of the league.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.