Belichick waxes historic on coaching trees

Belichick waxes historic on coaching trees
March 28, 2012, 7:50 pm
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PALM BEACH -- It's easy to foresee where Bill Belichick could go when he leaves coaching. Directly to NFL Films where he'd become their lead historian.

Hopefully, a role is created for him there. And hopefully, that comes later rather than sooner. He's still pretty fun to watch coach.

But his encyclopedic knowledge of the game's history and evolution is astounding. On Monday, he demonstrated that with a wide-ranging explanation of the Paul Brown coaching tree and then, in answering follow-ups, explaining what the Bill Belichick System is.

Here's the transcription of his explanations:

Q. How did Paul Brown influence you?

A. "I'd say a lot of it was indirect but very strong. My godfather (Bill Edwards) played with him, coached with him. My dad coached with my godfather. We went to Browns training camps every year at Hiram when I was a kid. Then we went to Wilmington when he was with the Bengals. He was always great to my dad, our family. He welcomed us, was very accommodating, I went to practice with my uncle, my godfather Bill Edwards. Those were great experiences as a kid to kind of be part of -- well, we weren't part of training camp -- but to be able to be on the field, and eat lunch with them and talk to coach Brown and all that.

"Then when I was with the Browns, Jim Brown came and joined us that first season. I invited him to come to a game and he did and I became close friends with Jim and Jim and I talked a lot about Paul and his relationship with Paul and how Paul ran the team.

"It was remarkable to me how similar things were at that point in the 90s and things haven't really changed that much 15 years later from the 90s structurally -- I'm talking about game plans and scouting reports and practice schedules all those kinds of things relative to the way Paul did 'em after the war.

"I'm sure that during World War II that was a time when all the college coaches got to interact and intersectional coaches got to spend time with each other and get ideas from other things that were going on. Film exchange and things like that, they weren't going on back then. I'm sure Paul took a lot of that information, developed the system that he did which is really the foundation of the West Coast offense.

"The West Coast offense is really the Ohio River offense. It's Paul and what he did in Cleveland and what he did in Cincinnati. That's the grandfather of all the West Coast teams. I think his influence in the coaching ranks from a coaching schedule and how to coach and all of that, he truly wrote the book on it. And Bill Walsh's book is really a follow-up on what Paul did. I'm sure a lot of what Bill learned was from what Paul did and it still applies today."(On the evolution of the Paul Brown coaching tree and other assorted growths:)

"You had Paul and Don Shula and all that but you had a tree there from Clark Shaughnessy (who mastered the T-formation offense) and Curly Lambeau and the Notre Dame system with (Knute) Rockne (who Lambeau played under at Notre Dame) and what Curly did in Green Bay and Paul Brown's system and you had Paul and Shula and all those disciples.

"You had some trees there with roots with a trunk and branches off 'em. When I came into the league, whichever system you learned in, that's the system. It was really replicated from team to team almost verbatim.

"When I came over from the Colts, Maxie Vaughn had come over from the Redskins with (Ted) Marchibroda and brought that from George Allen and Jack Pardee who was also with the Redskins, he had gone to Chicago and took that with him and George Allen had come up in the Clark Shaughnessy system so literally whatever we did was the exact same language. We called the splits the same, the coverages the same. Each route was .... that terminology was identical. But then as the game changed and you had to make accommodations for multiple receivers, multiple tight ends, more spread offenses, different than what we saw in the 60s to mid-70sand you had to come up with new terms, new adjustments. There's more coaches, more teams and its branched out a lot.

"But when I came into the league, if you knew another coach that was familiar with your system like the Shaughnessy system or the Paul Brown system or the Curly Lambeau system. You could have a conversation with that person and talk about some route and we would know exactly what we were talking about because we called it the exact same way."

Q. What is the Bill Belichick System that gets passed down?

"My first five years in the league I was with five different head coaches and literally five different systems. And we had Marchibrodas system (in Baltimore in 1975), just offensively, Marchibrodas system. Then we had Ken Shipps system (in Detroit in 1976), which was old Jets stuff, which was very good when he had Joe Namath and Rich Caster. ... And then Ed Hughes came in as offensive coordinator (in 1977) and Ed Hughes came from Dallas, so he brought the whole Landry system with him. And then in 78 I went to Denver and it was Red Miller and Red ran the old New England system that (Chuck) Fairbanks ran here, which was, you know, that was its own system too, and then in 79 with (Ray) Perkins (and the New York Giants), he really ran the it was part of the New England system but it was also the San Diego system, which started to get into some of the (Don) Coryell, Sid Gilman principles, so Im just saying, in five years thats a lot of exposure to a lot of different systems.

"I can say the same thing defensively defensively in Baltimore we ran the George Allen 4-3, which is the same thing Pardee ran which is a very intricate system of checks and adjustments and all that, and for two years in Detroit under Fritz Shurmur and Jimmy Carr and Jerry Glanville, we ran, it was a 4-3 but it was based off a 3-4 front and that was a very heavy, blitz-oriented system that Jerry ran and Jimmy Carr both ran throughout their careers Jerry in Atlanta Fritz Shurmur, whos another great coach and then I went to Denver and we ran Joe Colliers 3-4 defense, which was a much different 3-4 defense than what we ran two years later when Bill (Parcells) came from New England with Ray in 81 and put in the New England 3-4 defense. Im just saying, in five years in the league, I was exposed to five different offenses, really four different defenses, multiple different minds in the kicking game, Floyd Reese and Jerry Glanville, and after five years I had a lot of stuff thrown at me and I wasnt just set in one system. I felt like, I see some things here that I like, some things here that Im not really crazy about, vice-versa, so it was tremendous exposure because fortunately I was young enough; I was in a position where I didnt haveI wasnt a coordinator, responsible, so I was able to take things from the offense, the defense, the kicking game in all those situations and not only learn the systems from great, great coaches, like Fritz, like Joe Collier, like Marchibroda, guys like that that were great, great coaches.

Q. What do your assistants take from you when they go?

"Theres a lot of coaches that Ive coached with that Ive probably learned more from them than theyve learned from me. The Nick Sabans, the Scott OBriens, Ernie Adams, guys like that, those guys know a lot of football, theyre really, really good, theyve worked for me, I didnt really work for them, but what Ive learned from them and how theyve impacted my ability as a head coach, theyve had a big impact on me.

"So I dont think its just the people Ive worked under, I think its the people that Ive worked with Romeo (Crennel), Josh (McDaniels), Charlie (Weis), right down the line in Cleveland Kirk (Ferentz), Pat Hill, like I said, Nick, Scott OBrien, Mike Lombardi, Ozzie (Newsome), all those people, I learned a lot from them too. Maybe they learned something from me, maybe they didnt, I dont know, but it isnt just the people that I worked under back when I was an assistant coach or a coordinator, which Id throw Ray Perkins in there as well; he influenced me a lot, but I feel like Ive also been influenced by my contemporaries, and not on the people that have worked with me, but some other contemporaries, as I look at things that are going on in the league, things that are happening."