A .500 Bill due in Foxborough
Last week in this space we paid tribute to the players. This week our focus returns to Bill Belichick. As I wrote in a column earlier this week, Belichick and Bill Parcells, in my opinion, have done the best job of coaching in the league this year. But here's an interesting side note to this week's game against the Browns. Belichick could get over the .500 hump in his coaching career with a win over the Cleveland Browns, ironically the team he coached for five years that dug him into a hole (a 36-44 record). Belichick enters the game with a 70-70 record (including playoffs and Super Bowl) as a head coach. He's still a tad under .500, 66-69, in the regular season. The last time he was dead even at .500 was early in the 1995 season with the Browns, when he went out to a 3-1 record and was 35-35 (including two playoff games) after a 35-17 win over the Kansas Chiefs. From '94 through the first four games of '95, Belichick had an outstanding stretch where he went 15-7, including an 11-5 1994, 1-1 in the playoffs and 3-1 to start '95. Then the roof caved in. He went 2-10 the rest of '95 and then started his Patriots career 5-11 in '00 and 1-3 in '01. That's 8-24 before his fortunes changed for the best. Since Game 5 of the '01 season, Belichick is 27-11 (.710) with a Super Bowl win.
While the team he left behind was really the team that became the Baltimore Ravens, Belichick said he's put his past with the Browns in the proper place.
"It has been a while," Belichick said at his Wednesday press conference. "It has been almost 10 years. It was five years there. It was a significant part of my life and in my career but that was a long time ago. No more than the Giants or the Jets or anybody else. Plus the franchise has moved so there are very few people there that were even there when I was there."
Often the subject of booing and fan discontent, a complete turnaround of his current plight in New England, Belichick said of the fans, "They have enthusiastic fans. They are knowledgeable fans. That is the cradle of football, that is where it started. That is where the Hall of Fame is. High school football is big. There are, I don't know how many colleges in Ohio play football. It must be 40 or 50, whatever it is. There is a lot of football there and there are a lot of fans. The people know the game and they know it well. They are knowledgeable and they are passionate for it. Continued...