How have Bill Belichick’s protégés fared against him in their first encounter?

Mike Vrabel and Matt Patricia aren't the only ones who have come away with a victory.

Mike Vrabel Bill Belichick
Mike Vrabel greets Bill Belichick before Sunday's Patriots-Titans game. AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

The Patriots’ 34-10 shellacking at the hands of the Tennessee Titans marked the second time this season Bill Belichick was defeated in his first encounter with one of his former pupils. Titans coach Mike Vrabel played linebacker for Belichick and the Patriots for eight seasons.

In Week 3, it was former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions coming out on top, 26-10. It was one of just three wins for Detroit on the season, while the Patriots managed to win six in a row before losing Sunday in Nashville.

But Vrabel and Patricia are not the only Belichick protégés who have come away with a victory in their first encounter with their former mentor. Here’s a look at how the others fared.


Bill Belichick hugged Eric Mangini after the Patriots defeated the Jets in the 2006 playoffs.

■  Eric Mangini and the New York Jets squared off with the Patriots three times in the 2006 season, with the Patriots prevailing twice, including the first meeting, a 24-17 win on the road. Mangini won in his return to Gillette Stadium, 17-14. Quarterback Chad Pennington was 22 of 33 for 168 yards with one touchdown, as the Jets were able to put together scoring drives of 16 and 15 plays.

The game was played in muddy conditions, and it would be the last time the Patriots played on grass at their home field. The field was torn up and replaced with FieldTurf.


The Patriots won the rubber match in the playoffs, 37-16. In his stints with the Jets and the Cleveland Browns, Mangini went 3-5 against Belichick.

■  Josh McDaniels went 11-17 overall as coach of the Denver Broncos, but one of those wins came in his first and only meeting with Belichick, a 20-17 overtime win in 2009. Kyle Orton completed 35 of 48 passes for 330 yards and threw a pair of 11-yard TD passes to Brandon Marshall that capped drives of 90 and 98 yards.

■  Bill O’Brien has had some success as coach of the Houston Texans, leading his squad to the playoffs twice. But he has struggled against the Patriots, going 0-5 against Belichick. The first time he faced Belichick was in Week 14 of the 2015 season, a 27-6 loss that dropped the Texans to 6-7. Houston starter Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game as the Patriots sacked the quarterbacks six times.


Bill Belichick and Bill O’Brien shook hands after the Patriots’ 27-0 win over the Texans in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

■  Romeo Crennel faced Belichick just once as coach of the Cleveland Browns after serving as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004. Crennel and the Browns lost to the Patriots, 34-17, in Week 5 of the 2007 season. The Browns finished 10-6, the best mark of Crennel’s four-year tenure in Cleveland, but just missed out on a playoff spot.

■  Belichick also had three assistant coaches — Nick Saban, Al Groh, and Jim Schwartz — from his time in Cleveland who became head coaches and faced Belichick.


Saban’s stint with the Miami Dolphins lasted just two seasons. He lost his first matchup with Belichick, 23-16, at Dolphins Stadium in Week 10 of the 2005 season, although Miami won the season finale, 28-26, at Gillette Stadium, with Matt Cassel playing quarterback for the Patriots and throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Saban went 2-2 against Belichick in his two seasons in Miami.

Schwartz was coach of the Lions from 2009 to 2013, going 29-51 overall. He faced Belichick only once, a 45-24 loss on Thanksgiving.

Groh sports a 2-0 record against Belichick, but there is a caveat. Both victories came in the 2000 season, Belichick’s first year as coach of the Patriots, when they went 5-11. Groh was in his first year with the Jets, taking over after Bill Parcells stepped down and Belichick turned the job down.


In Groh’s first meeting with Belichick, the Jets rallied from a 19-6 deficit for a 20-19 home win on “Monday Night Football.’’ Drew Bledsoe finished 25 of 43 for 229 yards but just one touchdown, as the Patriots settled for four field goals. New York’s Vinny Testaverde threw two touchdowns to Wayne Chrebet in the final 6:25.