Bill Belichick will look to continue his success against former assistants on Thursday night. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
While Bill Belichick has had close relationships with many head coaches around the NFL, there’s nothing quite like when he matches on-field wits against one of his former assistants or associates.
This will mark just the fourth time Belichick has squared off against a former assistant since 2010. Belichick lost to Eric Mangini’s Browns, 34-14, in 2010. Later that season, he beat Jim Schwartz and the Lions, 45-24, on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, Belichick’s Patriots had their way with Bill O’Brien’s Texans, 27-6, in Houston.
It all began on Dec. 19, 1993 at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Belichick, then coach of the Browns, faced Bill Parcells, coach of the Patriots. The result was a 20-17 Parcells win over Belichick in Cleveland. The next season, Belichick got his revenge twice, beating Parcells’ Patriots in the regular season and in the playoffs. Parcells’ Patriots beat Belichick’s Browns in the 1995 season opener at Foxboro.
The next time the two squared off would be their last. Parcells was in his first year as head coach of the Cowboys in 2003 and Belichick beat Dallas 12-0 at Gillette Stadium, giving Belichick a 3-2 edge over the Big Tuna.
The former assistant Belichick has faced the most is Eric Mangini. The two squared off as opposing head coaches eight times, with Belichick holding a 5-3 advantage (1-0 in the playoffs).
While the Jan. 2007 meeting was in the playoffs, the most epic encounter came the next time the two got together. That was the 2007 opener, won by the Patriots, 38-14, at the Meadowlands. After the game, Mangini called the NFL about what he believed was inappropriate filming of the Jets’ defensive coaching signals. “Spygate” was born.
Al Groh has the best winning percentage, capturing both games in 2000, the only season Groh was head coach of the New York Jets, and also marking Groh’s only season as an NFL head coach.
While this list is primarily aimed at head coaches Belichick worked under or those who worked under Belichick. The most obvious colleague with a long history against Belichick is Tom Coughlin. The two were assistants together under Parcells on the Giants from 1988-90. Coughlin beat Belichick twice in the Super Bowl and twice in Jacksonville’s inaugural season of 1995 when Belichick was coach of the Browns. Overall, Coughlin finished 5-2 against Belichick, with Belichick’s only wins coming in the 2007 season finale that capped the 16-0 season and last year when Stephen Gostkowski booted a last second field goal to lift the Patriots to a 27-26 win at MetLife Stadium.
Excluding Coughlin and Parcells, Belichick has compiled a 10-8 mark in 18 games against past assistants. Belichick’s 37-16 spanking of Mangini in the 2006 playoffs is the only time he and a former assistant have squared off in the playoffs.
Nick Saban (2005-06 Miami Dolphins): 2-2
Bill O’Brien (2015 Houston Texans): 1-0
Eric Mangini (2006-08 New York Jets, 2010 Cleveland Browns): 5-3 (0-1 vs. Browns, 5-2 vs. Jets)
Romeo Crennel (2006 Cleveland Browns): 1-0
Josh McDaniels (2009 Denver Broncos): 0-1
Al Groh (2000 New York Jets): 0-2
Jim Schwartz (2010 Detroit Lions): 1-0