Al Davis used to say the shelf live for an NFL coach was about a decade.
This is probably because Davis was the Oakland Raiders and didn’t want a coach staying too long and upstaging him.
Yet the problem with staying too long is that most coaches win with just one quarterback — and once the quarterback leaves, so do their title years.
Although Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three difference quarterbacks, most winners of multiple Super Bowls won with just one.
For example, Paul Brown’s titles came with Otto Graham, Chuck Noll’s with Terry Bradshaw and Tom Landry’s with Roger Staubach.
None of them won a title after their franchise quarterback retired.
Bill Belichick has had a longer run than most with eight Super Bowls appearances with the New England Patriots and five titles. Both are Super Bowl records.
He’s done it because Tom Brady lasted longer than most franchise quarterbacks — and he’s still going.
But you have to start wondering if even Belichick stayed too long and will not win another title.
He may have too much power in an organization that no longer has any checks and balances because owner Robert Kraft lets him do what he wants, with the possible exception of making it obvious he won’t let Belichick dump Brady.
A perfect example was Belichick benching Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. Nobody knows why he did it, and he never gives explanations. But there was nobody in the organization to talk him out of it.
His drafting has been suspect in recent years. His trademark has been to make a flurry of trades, but then not using the picks wisely.
And he gave away Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick. Why? Again, Belichick never gives explanations.
And now his methods are being questioned as never before with the claims it is no fun to play for him.
It’s interesting he ended OTAs with a trip to Fenway Park, where among other things, the players reportedly played cornhole.
Was that an answer to the “no fun” allegations? Who knows? Belichick never explains anything.
And then Brady and Rob Gronkowski skipped the offseason program. Gronk may be upset about his contract, but Brady has never worried about his deal. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family. But could he be tiring of Belichick being on his butt no matter how many Super Bowls he wins? Who knows?
It is interesting that at the start of the Vince Lombardi era in Green Bay, Bart Starr, generally a mild-mannered type, said he couldn’t be a leader if Lombardi chewed him out in front of his teammates instead of doing it in private.
From all reports, Belichick has no problem doing it to Brady in front of his teammates.
And now Belichick faces another challenge. No team has lost a Super Bowl and won it the next year since the perfect Miami Dolphins of 1972. Now he’s fighting history, too.
But then Belichick still has one thing going for them. He plays in the AFC East. The other three teams haven’t had a franchise quarterback to challenge Brady since he took over. And they still don’t.
So Belichick is virtually guaranteed a division title and a playoff spot. And the AFC doesn’t have a lot of teams to challenge the Patriots.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had them on the ropes in the AFC title game, but some questionable play calls and officiating calls and Blake Bortles‘ failure to make a big play in the fourth quarter enabled the Patriots to escape.
But then they ran into Philadelphia, which was the better team even with their backup quarterback. And then Belichick shot himself in the foot with the Butler decision.
This is the back story as the Patriots enter the 2018 season.
Has Belichick stayed too long, or can he find a way to get that sixth Super Bowl win?
Will he step down when Brady does because the Jimmy G. trade left the Patriots without a quarterback waiting in the wings?
Once Brady leaves, the Patriots will be just another team with a question mark at quarterback.
Louis XIV was quoted as saying, “After me, the deluge (or flood),” although it is uncertain whether actually said it.
It could be said about Belichick if he doesn’t find a successor to Brady soon.
The deluge may be coming for the Patriots.