Considering that he’s a head coach, Belichick’s players often get the blame for the problems with the Browns, but when you look at the assistant coaches, it’s clear many were a lot more popular with the players. Assistant coaches are almost never mentioned in stories about their boss. Usually, they’re just the ones who bring him his coffee in the morning. But guys like Josh McDaniels, Pep Hamilton, and Brian Daboll were all central to shaping Belichick’s coaching philosophy, and they routinely praised him in the press for his approach to the game. This, plus a lot more, shows that Belichick’s players are wrong when they say his assistants are the ones who really run the show in Cleveland.
Bill Belichick is one of the most successful head coaches in the history of football, but he’s also a notoriously hard man to work for. He has been known to countermand every decision made by his assistants, and even fired one of them in the middle of the season. For example, he dismissed Pat Shurmur during the 2003 season, and then fired his successor, either Eric Mangini or Charlie Weis, a year later.
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Many players have said that Bill Belichick is a difficult coach to play for. That may be true, but his accomplishments with the New England Patriots should not be ignored.
Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for five years, and many of the players did not like working with him. While the players in Cleveland may not have liked their time with Belichick, his assistant coaches did.
With the Cleveland Browns, Bill Belichick enjoyed one winning season
On November 13, 1995, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sidelines during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.
In his five years with the Browns, Belichick only had one winning season, which came in 1994. Belichick had a 36-44 record with the Browns in five years and was dismissed by owner Art Modell following the 1995 season. The 1995 season in Cleveland was a disaster, as Modell declared midway through the season that he would be relocating the team to Baltimore.
In a 2004 Sports Illustrated story, Belichick stated, “I didn’t walk away from there thinking I did a terrible job.” “Not in the least. We took a poor club, improved it, reached the playoffs, had a horrible year in maybe the most extreme negative scenario in football history, and were dismissed. Art and I were just not a good match.”
That dismissal prompted Belichick to quit from the New York Jets after just one day on the job. Belichick thought he’d only have one more chance at an NFL head coaching position after his time with the Browns. He wanted to double-check everything.
The Jets were up for sale, and Belichick didn’t want to coach for an unknown owner. Because of the tumultuous situation with the Jets, Belichick famously resigned on a napkin, scribbling, “I quit as HC of the NYJ.”
In Cleveland, Bill Belichick didn’t make many friends among the players
Give kudos to Bill Belichick. He hasn’t changed in any way. In New England, his act is genuine. Those fast responses that don’t actually address anything didn’t start when he became the Patriots’ head coach in 2000.
Tony Grossi, who covered the Browns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer under Belichick, never liked those boring news briefings.
According to Sports Illustrated, “sitting through his press conferences was like putting a sharp pencil into your eye.”
Belichick was also not very fond of his players. He was more demanding and harsher than any of the Browns’ prior coaches. He did things his way, which sometimes hurt a player’s ego. Belichick let go of veteran quarterback Bernie Kosar, who had complained that the offense was boring at one point.
In 2004, Kosar stated, “We kissed and made up.” “We were both Type A personalities with opposing viewpoints on how things should be done. As you can see, the guy knows how to coach.”
While the Browns’ players disliked Belichick, the assistant coaches did
Belichick understood what it was like to be an assistant coach. When he was named head coach of the Browns in 1991, he gave cash to people who worked under him.
Belichick had his secretary deposit a check from his personal bank account every Monday following a win over an AFC Central opponent, and he placed $200 on each assistant coach’s desk. Every June, he divides the profits of his radio and television programs among his assistants – around $12,000 per person – and keeps nothing for himself.
Kirk Ferentz, who worked under Belichick and subsequently became the head coach at Iowa, expressed his admiration for him.
Ferentz told Sports Illustrated, “Bill knew what it was like to be an assistant coach.” “He gave everyone a second Christmas,” says the narrator. Do you believe that doesn’t make you a loyal person?”
Belichick may not have had the most outgoing demeanor, but he made sure that people closest to him were taken care of.
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