Commentary: Patriots’ Belichick good, but not in the NFL’s top 5

When the New England Patriots take on the Denver Broncos today in the AFC championship, it will mark the 10th time Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has played for a spot in the Super Bowl.

Should the Pats win, it would mark the seventh time he’s coached a team in the title game.

And if New England were to beat either the Arizona Cardinals or Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco on Feb. 7, it would give Bill his fifth Lombardi Trophy – more than any other head coach in NFL history.

Yet despite all his stats and playoff success, Belichick does not deserve to rank in the top five NFL coaches of all time.

Belichick proponents, who think he deserves to be ranked No. 1, argue that what he’s accomplished since taking over as the Pats’ head coach in 2000 is remarkable since he’s managed to find success despite the free agency era.

However, while plenty of players have come and gone through Foxborough, Belichick has always had Tom Brady as his quarterback.

Also, for all his success, Belichick is not an innovator. Yes, he does a good job of formulating and adjusting game plans, but that’s hardly the mark of a NFL coach worthy of a top five spot.

Finally, whether one believes the accusations, Belichick will forever have “Spygate” and “Deflategate” looming over him.

Where Belichick ranks among the NFL’s best is debatable. However, here are five coaches who rank above him:

1. Vince Lombardi: The coveted Super Bowl trophy is not named after this man for no reason. His .900 playoff winning percentage is still the highest of all time. Lombardi is the epoch of NFL coaches and he’ll remain the coach to which all others will be measured against. During his time as the Green Bay Packers head coach, the team won five championships in nine seasons as well as the first two Super Bowls.

2. BILL WALSH: Known as the father of the West Coast offense, Walsh was a true innovator and helped change the way NFL football is played. Under Walsh, the San Francisco 49ers became a dynasty, winning three Super Bowls in the 1980s. Moreover, a number of his assistants went on to become Super Bowl winning coaches, including George Seifert, Mike Homgren, Jon Gruden and Brian Billick.

3. TOM LANDRY: Like Walsh, Landry was an innovator. Not only did he hone now-commonly used defensive schemes, he also made the shotgun offense popular. As head coach of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1989, Landry led the Cowboys to two Super Bowls and three Super Bowl appearances.

4. BILL PARCELLS: While he hasn’t won as many Super Bowl titles as some coaches, Parcells is known for reinvigorating slumping franchises, including the New York Giants, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. He won two Super Bowls with the Giants, led the Patriots to one in 1996 and got the Jets to within one game of the title game in 1998. Coincidentally, Belichick is one of many coaches who learned under Parcells’ tutelage.

5. JOE GIBBS: While this one may seem a bit of a stretch, the fact that Gibbs was able to win three Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins despite not having one Hall of Fame quarterback is what sets him apart. Gibbs’ first Super Bowl (XVII) came with Joe Theismann at the helm, his second (Super Bowl XXII) was captured with unlikely hero Doug Williams leading the charge and his third ring (Super Bowl XXVI) was won with Mark Rypien.

Dave Favila is sports editor for the Valley Morning Star. Follow him on Twitter @dfavila