|10-08-2009, 01:22 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Broncos coach McDaniels can go where no Belichick protege has gone before
By Dave Krieger
Denver Post Columnist
As the undisputed star of Bill Belichick's NFL coaching tree after just four games, Josh McDaniels is already into uncharted territory.
Sunday, he and the Broncos will try to break another precedent. No product of Belichick's celebrated New England coaching staffs has taken over another team and then beaten the master in their first meeting.
Eric Mangini's Jets came closest, beating Belichick's Patriots in their second meeting. Belichick removed the shine by winning the third matchup of the season, in the playoffs, by 21 points.
So, as you might imagine, Sunday's reunion in Denver with his former offensive coordinator and a number of his former players has Belichick feeling sentimental.
"Really, it's pretty common every week that there's a coach or a player or somebody on the team that we play, there's some kind of relationship there," Belichick told New England reporters Wednesday.
"We all understand what that is. It's not about that. It's about our team competing against their team for that one time. That's what we're all there for."
So Bill, did you see Josh's potential as a head coach and kind of show him the ropes?
"I don't think it really works that way," Belichick said. "The process of hiring in the National Football League, or even head coaching jobs in general, is pretty unique. It's not really straightforward. You don't know what another team or owner or college, or whoever it is, who they're going to hire or what they want.
"I mean, I've coached with a lot of coaches that I think would be great head coaches that haven't been, or have never gotten that opportunity. But I wasn't making the decision, so somebody else must have thought differently. And vice versa. People get hired as head coaches that wouldn't have been my choice. But it's not my decision. So I don't really worry about that."
Hmm. If we're looking for warm and fuzzy, for memories, for testimonials, perhaps we should seek them elsewhere.
"When he was quarterback coach his first year, 2004, you could really tell," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of McDaniels. "He studied under the defense here for a while and I think he really brought that over to the offense and said, 'All right, guys, this is how they're trying to stop us, so this is how we're going to beat it.'
"Obviously, when you can do that and you learned under Coach Belichick, as an offensive coach you can bring so much information — you know, versus formations what they're going to do, how they're going to play certain looks that we're giving them. And then you try to take advantage of those looks. He was really great at that and he's still great at that."
McDaniels makes no secret of his reliance on principles learned from Belichick, but the mystery remains: Following Mangini, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, McDaniels is the fourth Patriots offensive or defensive coordinator of the Belichick era awarded a high-profile head coaching job. For the others, those principles don't seem to have been that helpful.
"Bill has a great formula for how to get his team to be successful, and the challenge now for all of us is to try to take that concept and philosophy and apply it to our organizations to see if we can replicate the success," McDaniels told Cleveland reporters before facing off against Mangini three weeks ago. "We were all given a great handbook if you took the time to pay attention."
But what's in it, exactly?
"All I know is we try to limit our mistakes," McDaniels said. "We try to take away the other teams' strengths if you can. I have said it before: Tough, smart, physical football for 60 minutes. It sounds redundant. Nobody believes in it except the guys inside the building. Everybody (else) just thinks you're talking coachspeak. But it's not. Tough, smart, physical football wins most games."
McDaniels' Broncos have met every challenge so far. But it's early, as Brady pointed out while talking about his own team.
"There's obviously things we've done well," he said. "There's things that we need to do better. I wish I could say we're right where we need to be. I don't think any team really is right now. And if you're peaking right now, in Week 4, then probably you don't have very high expectations for yourself."
After eight seasons in New England, McDaniels knows that as well as anyone. But in a fairy tale start to his first season in Denver, a victory over his former boss would further set him apart from the rest of Belichick's NFL coaching tree.