Belichick explains how organizations go bad

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Yahoo! Sports columnist Jason Cole recently stopped by Gillette Stadium for a few minutes in New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's office. Cole came away with a compelling Q&A interview with Belichick that was posted Friday.

Belichick discussed a lot of topics, from the Richard Seymour trade to the two most important quarterback traits to how he handles watching his kids play sports.

But the exchange I found most interesting was Belichick's response to a question about why there are so many substandard teams in the NFL these days. Here is that exchange, but I highly recommend you read the whole interview:

Cole: Why are there so many bad teams around the league this year?

Belichick: Here’s the only thing I’ll say: I think to have a really good team in this league, you have to make a lot, a lot of good decisions. You have to have a lot of good people, players, coaches, whatever. You need a lot of those Conversely, to not be competitive, you would have to have a lot of bad decisions. One bad decision is not going to do it, one bad player is not going to do it, one bad coach is not going to do it. You’re going to have to collectively, over a cumulative period of time, make a long series of bad decisions and accumulate a lot of players who are substandard for their position. There have to be a multitude of things that go wrong.

Cole: Because you can keep yourself average for a long time?

Belichick: That’s the system. If you don’t have good players, you have money to spend on players. If you have a bunch of good players, you eventually run out of money and you can’t keep them all and somebody else gets them. That’s the system, it keeps everybody average. We’ve seen teams be really good just on coaching. We’ve seen teams be competitive with just a few good players.

Cole: Jimmy Johnson once said, if you don’t take too many risks, you can win nine or 10 games a year.

Belichick: Jimmy probably said the same thing to you that he once said to me: “You’re really only competing with about 10 teams a year. If you just say out of the way, the other 20 teams will screw it up themselves. Whether it’s ownership or personnel or coaching or some combination of factors.” Ego, internal struggle, something will happen to two-thirds of the teams, that was Jimmy’s theory. That leaves you with about 10 teams that you’re going to have to really battle with. Those teams have it together. They’re going to make good decisions and if you play bad football, they’re going to take advantage of it. They’re going to find some undrafted guy or some middle-round pick or some veteran free agent who is going to spark their team.

Pittsburgh is always going to be there. Indianapolis is always going to be there. They may not win it, but they’ll be there. You’re going to have to beat them. Philadelphia is going to be there. Yeah, [quarterback Donovan] McNabb might get hurt one year and they might go 7-9, but they’re going to be there. You’re still battling them on every front.