Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #35: The Education of a Coach
One last football book (at least until this fall!). Players get the lion's share of credit for wins and championships, and often they should. Tom Brady is indisputably the greatest quarterback ever to play the game (last night marked the sixth time he's led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or OT of a Super Bowl - no other QB has more than six such drives in all of postseason play). Julian Edelman was as much the MVP of this game as Yukon Cornelius is of the Rudolph Christmas special. Gronk, Develin, Michel, Gilmore, Van Noy, the McCourty brothers - clutch moments from them all.
But this was a coaching victory last night, make no mistake. Belichick (and I suspect new Dolphins coach Brian Flores) crafted the absolutely perfect defensive game plan to stymie and befuddle young Jared Goff and the allegedly high-octane Rams offense. Using lots of zone instead of the man defense the Patriots had relied on all year with a heavy dose of odd-man blitzes, the Patriots were nearly flawless when Los Angeles had the ball.
It's not the first time Belichick has presided over such a masterful game plan. He was bred to the trade, son of legendary Navy football assistant coach Steve Belichick - virtually from the cradle, he was studying film and reading books on the subject. He watched Roger Staubach up close at Annapolis, the first Captain Comeback (it was said Staubach never lost a game, just that time sometimes ran out on him - that's how it feels rooting for TB12 too). His prime years were spent molding Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Leonard Marshall, and Pepper Johnson into a defense so dominant that it led Phil Simms to two Super Bowls and ended the Joe Montana run in San Francisco. His game plan against the terrifyingly explosive Buffalo offense in Super Bowl XXV was brilliant, a blueprint he adapted for taking down Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf a decade later.
There's no argument that Brady is the greatest quarterback ever. When you pair him with the greatest coach ever, you get nine Super Bowl appearances with six titles. And counting.