Do Belichick’s former assistants have an extra edge against him?

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien (right) shake hands after New England's victory in September. Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine Bill Belichick in the hooded role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but in his 22 years as an NFL head coach, he has not cultivated a Darth Vaderesque foil. There has never been a sustained threat by a student against the master, nor a longstanding run of success by a Belichick disciple that forced the sort of reexamination of relationships and contributions to past successes that followed Belichick’s liberation from the shadow of Bill Parcells.

In many ways, when Bill O’Brien leads the Texans into Foxborough Saturday, he will do so as the most successful Belichick acolyte in the NFL to date. Already, O’Brien has led the Texans into more playoff games (the divisional round against the Patriots will mark his third in three years at Houston’s helm) than any other product of the Belichick coaching tree.


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