Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Browns’

Journalists: A Belichick primer for your next puff piece

Posted by Fred on January 10, 2008

Why do I suspect that if the Patriots keep winning, we’re going to see more and more articles like the one in USA Today claiming that Bill Belichick is among the best-ever coaches? And why do I suspect that they’ll either gloss over what the article calls the “Cleveland years” or else ignore them entirely like ESPN The Magazine did? I’ll help you lazy journalists out with a few facts:

Fact #1: Prior to the Greatest Coach Ever’s arrival, the Browns, led by QB Bernie Kosar, were perennial AFC title contenders and may easily have been in a couple of Super Bowls but for John Elway’s Drive and Ernest Byner’s Fumble.

Fact #2: Then Belichick came, kicked Kosar out in favor of over-the-hill Vinny Testaverde, and managed one winning season and one playoff appearance in five seasons.

Fact #3: Belichick’s winning percentage (0.450) is more Bud Carson (0.440) than Marty Schottenheimer (0.620).

Fact #4: In 1989, the Browns played in the AFC Championship Game. Belichick showed up in 1991, and in five years managed to single-handedly drive the team out of town and turn them into the Ravens.

Fact #5: The Patriots are what they are not because Belichick is a genius, but because Parcells built a machine that even Pete Carroll couldn’t destroy, and because Belichick was handed Tom Brady in the 2000 draft, only to subsequently have this sixth-round pick (who lost five games in two seasons at Michigan and had to fight Drew Henson for a job) turn into Superman.

I don’t doubt that Belichick was too young when Modell hired him, and don’t deny that the Browns weren’t exactly stocked with All-Pros. Nor do I deny that Belichick has been successful in Foxboro. But these journalists need to find a NFL history book that doesn’t jump straight from 1990 to 1996.  Don’t mention Belichick in the same breath as Vince Lombardi (0.738 winning percentage, zero losing seasons), Chuck Noll (0.566, ten or more wins in 7 of the 8 seasons between 1972-1979) or Don Shula (0.678, two losing seasons over 33 years) unless you are prepared to address the “Cleveland years”.


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