Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When Belichick and Parcells Coached the New York Giants

New York Giants

In 1963 the Giants lost the NFL Championship to the Chicago Bears.  The Giants had won a league championship and five conference championships in 8 years.  But between 1964 and 1980, the best the Giants could do was to earn a second place finish in the NFC East in 1970.  However, a new General Manager, George Young, was hired in 1979. He would begin a series of personnel moves that would right the Giants. 

In 1979, Bill Belichick moved on to the New York Giants where he would stay until 1990.
When Belichick was originally hired, the head coach was Ray Perkins who held that position through 1982. Perkins’s staff included Bill Parcells as defensive coordinator. He joined the team at the same time as Belichick.  Perkins was a very tough, hard-nosed old fashioned coach.  His best year was 1981 when he led the Giants to a 9–7 season.  Perkins left the Giants after the strike-shortened 1982 season to take over the University of Alabama head coaching position that had been vacated with the retirement of Paul “Bear” Bryant, the celebrated Crimson Tide coach. 

Parcells replaced Perkins as head coach in 1983.  Belichick worked with special teams, then linebackers, and finally in 1985 he took over as defensive coordinator.  Belichick played a crucial part in the Giants’ two Super Bowl titles under Parcells--one for  the 1986 season and the second for the 1990 season.

Belichick and Parcells

Belichick and Parcells were miles apart in their personalities and coaching styles.  Parcells exuded a physical toughness and presence that was matched by a sharp tongue that he used liberally to cut his “adversaries” off at the knees.  He was intimidating and he could motivate men to play at their best regardless of how modern or pampered they might have been.  He was an explosion of biting humor and folksy quotes.  Parcells used the nickname “Doom” for Belichick—saying that when it came to Belichick: "His glass was usually half-empty."

Belichick matches mind-power with physical preparation and practice that melds into his team’s psyche.  His players buy into his team-first system, know their place, and play their part.  By being in control of his emotions, Belichick is also able to coolly coach his team during a game and make adjustments. 

Parcells worked at the emotional center of coaching, relied heavily on those around him, and attracted much attention.  Belichick hides his emotions and logically instructs his players to play their roles flawlessly.  Belichick relinquishes control in most areas reluctantly and he has developed a consistent program that varies little from year to year.  He hides from the spotlight in oversized sweatshirts.  He conducts “close to the vest” news conferences.  However, like Parcells, Belichick insists that everyone respect his position as head coach and for him that means that he is the primary contact for team information.  In New York with Parcells, Belichick coached a gifted group of athletes that included Pro Football Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson.

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press.
Material taken from Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey, grandson of Papa Bear George Halas. More information.