ESPN celebrates the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi's birth with the "Greatest Coaches in NFL History" series, saluting the finest innovators, motivators, tacticians, teachers and champions ever to stalk the sideline. Follow along as we reveal our list of the top 20 coaches of all time and document the lineage of the league's most influential coaching trees.
Bill Belichick has led the New England Patriots on arguably the most dominant extended stretch in NFL history. He is known for his attention to detail and defensive strategy, although his Patriots have produced some of the most prolific offensive seasons in history.
His keen eye for talent and ability to get the most out of his players has helped the Patriots maintain a high level of play year after year without a drop-off, despite their usual late draft position in a salary-cap era.
Belichick was the first coach to win at least 10 games in 10 consecutive seasons and the first to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span (2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons). He also coached the Patriots to the NFL's first 16-0 regular season in 2007 (although they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants). That 2007 team set a league record by averaging 36.8 points per game. The 2011 Patriots were Belichick's fifth Super Bowl team (and second to lose to the Giants).
Belichick ranked ninth in career coaching wins after the 2012 season, including five seasons with the Browns (1991-95) that resulted in a 36-44 record with one playoff trip. He heads into the 2013 season two playoff victories behind Tom Landry's career record (20) that has stood since the 1982 season.
Before finding his niche in New England, Belichick's greatest success came working under Bill Parcells for 12 seasons on three teams. Belichick won two Super Bowls (1986 and 1990 seasons) as Parcells' defensive coordinator with the Giants. Belichick was assistant head coach for Parcells when the Patriots went to Super Bowl XXXI and held the same role with the New York Jets when they reached the 1998 AFC Championship Game.
When Parcells retired from the Jets after the 1999 season, Belichick became their head coach for one day before resigning to take over the Patriots.
Before joining forces with Parcells on the Giants staff under Ray Perkins in 1979, Belichick worked for the Baltimore Colts, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos.
-- Kevin Stone
BELICHICK THROUGH THE EYES OF A PLAYER: TEDY BRUSCHI
I have young kids and now that I don't play for Bill Belichick anymore, I find myself watching the games with my sons. I regularly tell them that they're watching one of the best coaches in the history of the National Football League. And your father got to play for him.
Demanding. I think that's the word that best describes it. He's not going to be your best friend. He is demanding of you every second that you are in that facility and partially when you're out of the facility also. He demands your concentration, your intelligence. Your physical being. Your effort. Everything that you can put into a football game, he demands it of you.
What made him so great was the way he taught us offensive football. How he taught us the schemes that they were running, why they were running them and why we were running a certain defense to stop them. I thought that was his best way of coaching, and that's why he demanded players with high intelligence, because you had to understand to look at it from different angles. It didn't matter if you won 15 or 21 in a row, you felt like you lost the previous game because he did such a good job of suppressing success. No matter how good the game was, he would always find those other plays that he would show you to tell you how there was still room to get better and moving onto next week, to apply it to next week.
-- Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, as told to Greg Garber
ESPN "Greatest Coaches in NFL History" voting panel: Chris Berman, Jeffri Chadiha, John Clayton, Colin Cowherd, Mike Ditka, Gregg Easterbrook, Herm Edwards, David Fleming, Ashley Fox, Greg Garber, Mike Golic, Suzy Kolber, Eric Mangini, Chris Mortensen, Sal Paolantonio, Bill Polian, Rick Reilly, Mike Sando, Adam Schefter, Ed Werder, Seth Wickersham, Trey Wingo.