Ask a lot of analysts what makes Bill Belichick one of the greatest coaches of all time, and you'll likely get a stock answer that really doesn't make any sense if you have a coaching background - something like "he takes away what the other team does well," or something along those lines.
Well, as we all know, that's a terrible analogy because every coach in America goes in with a game plan to do that.
So what is it that makes Belichick a unique coaching talent? Michael Lombardi, who has an extensive resume in personnel and front office positions around the NFL with the Niners, Browns, Rams, Eagles, Raiders, and finally with Belichick and the Patriots for a few years. In total, Lombardi spent seven seasons with Belichick, five in Cleveland and and the 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England.
So to better understand what makes Belichick successful, Lombardi offered the following explanation on the Rich Eisen show:
"Everybody has that statement [that they're going to take away what the other team does well], but they never define how he does it. What I wrote about [in The Ringer] is how he does it. What he does, is he doesn't take away what you do best, he takes away what the players do best.
So, for example, if he knows Jake Matthews lacks power at left tackle, he pushed the pocket with Trey Flowers with the first pass rush of the game. Trey Flowers starts pushing Matthews back into the pocket. He knew the guards lacked power, so he pushed them back in the pocket. He knew where Julio wanted to get the ball."
It's not about taking away the best plays, it's about taking away the player's skill set. That's what he does."
Lombardi went on to note another interesting aspect often overlooked outside of coaching circles, and that is the biggest decisions of the game are made well in advance and not during the pivotal moment - when emotion has a tendency to creep in and play a major role in the final call. Big decisions like whether to go for it on fourth down, or go for two to make it a one or two score game are decisions that Belichick and his coordinators make earlier during that drive, or at the last staff meeting nights before kickoff to make sure the emotion of the moment doesn't interfere.
Hear more from Lombardi on what makes Belichick special in the clip.