Bill Belichick’s defensive genius, record-breaking offenses and three Super Bowl victories will someday put him in the Hall of Fame. Tom Brady and he have formed the greatest coach-quarterback pair in NFL history.
But beyond all of that, one thing truly sets Belichick above the rest: his creative use of personnel. Belichick has always found a way to get maximum productivity out of players cast aside elsewhere.
Troy Brown: Turning Small Receptions into Big Defenses
Brady might be the best example of a nobody Belichick turned into a superstar, but the full list is much, much longer. A perfect example is Troy Brown: a small-yardage receiver (career average: 11.4 yards per catch) who only once gave the Patriots a 1,000-yards receiving year once, and whose touchdown receptions maxed out at six in 1997. He averaged fewer than four catches per game in the playoffs, only scoring once.
As Belichick’s offense became bigger and bigger, Brown’s usefulness as a wide receiver lessened and lessened. So in typical fashion, Belichick made Brown a cornerback in 2004.
The move paid dividends, with Brown picking off three passes and recovering two fumbles. Injuries wracked the Patriot secondary that year, and Brown’s contributions gave the full-time defenders just enough of a reprieve to keep everything from collapsing.
When Brown retired in 2008, Belichick said it was “an honor and a privilege” to work with Brown. High praise from a man who rarely gives any.