Bradley’s Buzz: Belichick to the Falcons? Slam dunk, right?

The common thread among Arthur Blank’s five hires: Not one was an NFL head coach before alighting in Flowery Branch. That could be one reason Blank, who inherited Dan Reeves when buying the club in February 2002, is seeking his seventh coach. That’s one every three years.

Blank’s purchase of the Falcons was approved on Feb. 3, 2002. The next day, the massively favored Rams lost to an upstart team led by a fledgling quarterback and a man who’d just worked his second winning season in six as head coach in the Super Bowl. Before that fateful Sunday, Bill Belichick was known mostly for backing out of a job via a scribbled note: “I resign as HC of the NYJ.”

The Falcons are considered one of the favorites to land Belichick, whose time in New England is believed to be near its end. (He’s still under contract, he said Monday, though it’s unclear for how long. The Patriots never disclose Belichick’s contractual terms.) If you’re a franchise that churns through HCs, could you do anything but leap at the chance to land the GOAT of HCs?

Yes, you could. Maybe you should.

Belichick has won six Super Bowls, all with Tom Brady, who left for Tampa Bay and won himself a seventh. If the Patriots agree to release – or trade – their coach, it will be because they have, in four post-Brady seasons, finished above .500 once.

Over Belichick’s 29 seasons, his teams posted winning records 22 times. Twenty were with Brady. The exceptions: with Cleveland in 1994 and with Matt Cassel leading the Pats to 10-6 in 2008 after Brady tore his ACL. We can make the case that Belichick is the greatest coach ever – we say again: six Super Bowls – but he wouldn’t be coaching the GOAT of QBs here.

With New England, Belichick went from Brady to a recycled Cam Newton, then to Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. As HC and de facto GM, he had control of personnel. His roster-building of late isn’t what will earn him a plaque in Canton. Since 2013, no draftee in Rounds 1, 2 or 3 has signed a second contract with the Pats – not even Sony Michel, taken 31st overall in 2018.

Belichick is 71. Only seven NFL head coaches have worked beyond their 70th birthdays. Nobody – not even George Halas, who owned the team he coached – has gone beyond 73. (Seattle’s Pete Carroll just moved on; he’s 72.) Should a franchise in dire need of stability hire a coach who’d walk through the door as a short-timer?

Blank, who’s 81, might view it differently. He has watched the Falcons string together six losing seasons, marking the second-longest run of failure in team history. The first 15 years of his stewardship saw four losing seasons. The 14th of those 15 seasons ended with him on the sideline as the Lombardi Trophy was snatched from his grasp. If two years of Belichick bring deliverance, how could that be bad?

We wonder, though, if the day-to-day reality of Belichick would match the allure. Blank likes a collegial workplace. He likes happy people, which would describe Dan Quinn but not – understatement alert – Belichick. In Seth Wickersham’s 2021 book on the Patriots, owner Robert Kraft is quoted as calling his coach “the biggest (bleep) in my life.”

Blank isn’t without excesses. He makes his fourth-quarter sideline appearances and audits his coach’s postgame press briefings. We’re never allowed to forget that these are Blank’s Falcons. If you’re the great Belichick and you’re accustomed to doing as you please, do you look forward to those Monday audiences with Arthur?

I can see Blank being infatuated by Belichick. I can also envision a massive case of buyer’s remorse. The winner of six Super Bowls isn’t necessarily a panacea for the team that, in part because of him, hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

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