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UW Hires Patriots’ Belichick as Defensive Coordinator

No, not that one (his son)

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Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick are linked in so many ways. Both coached the New England Patriots. Both are among the greatest NFL coaches of the last decade (Belichick of course, ever). They coached against one another in a Super Bowl. And now both of their sons are coordinators for the Washington Huskies.

That is expected to become official today with the hiring of Steve Belichick as Washington’s Defensive Coordinator to help fill out his coaching staff. The news was first reported as expected last night by 247’s Matt Zenitz with confirmation by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. ESPN’s Field Yates, who previously worked in the Patriots’ front office, reported this morning that Belichick had accepted the position. Fisch and Belichick both were assistant coaches in New England in 2020 when Fisch was the QB coach for the Patriots.

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Edit 12:15p 2/5/24

The UW officially announced Belichick’s hire though a day later than expected. They did not announce a simultaneous position grouping which will likely depend on the final defensive assistant. Belichick most recently coached OLBs so could theoretically coach the edge rushers or the linebackers which appear to be the two vacancies.

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This will be Belichick’s first job in college athletics. He attended Rutgers University and played long snapper during his senior year after primarily concentrating on lacrosse. Steve was hired out of college by his father to be an assistant coach on the Patriots’ staff and was promoted after 4 seasons in that role to safeties coach. After another 4 seasons in that position he moved over to outside linebackers coach and in 2019 was granted defensive play calling duties, although he was never officially the defensive coordinator for New England.

It seems likely that part of the delay in hiring Belichick to this role was that he wanted to see if his father would get another job this offseason after parting ways with the Patriots. He ultimately did not and new Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo has said that he offered the younger Belichick the opportunity to stay on as an assistant on his staff but clearly Belichick declined.

This is absolute a high risk and high reward hire for Coach Fisch. We’ll start with the high risk element.

Belichick has absolutely zero experience in college football and has never had to leave the Northeast for school/work. He has never had to do any recruiting and it is a complete unknown how he might fare in that regard. His father is arguably the greatest NFL coach of all-time but there have been plenty of people with famous parents that have gotten by through nepotism rather than their own ability. We’ve never seen Belichick get another job or succeed without working for and with his father. That provides plenty of doubt as to how legitimate Belichick’s credentials actually are.

It doesn’t help the younger Belichick that most fans who don’t follow New England closely are only aware of him through internet memes. There are several popular gifs of Belichick on the sideline with his tongue sticking out and his mullet haircut is quite distinct in the world of NFL coaching.

If he had any other last name though then this would potentially be viewed as a home run hire. Belichick has called plays for a defense that has finished in the top-ten of DVOA for the past 3 seasons. That’s despite the Patriots never having close to league average quarterback play which constantly put their defense in terrible positions.

Belichick is just 36 years old so you would expect him to have plenty of energy to help him learn the recruiting landscape. Being able to say you’ve won 3 Super Bowls and have the greatest coach of all-time plus any number of current or future Hall of Famers on speed dial probably helps someone to recruit as well.

Jedd Fisch stated in a radio interview on Friday that he challenged his staff to make the 2025 recruiting class the best in Washington’s history. Turning around and hiring a defensive coordinator without any recruiting experience at all certainly makes that task incredibly difficult unless he’s 100% confident that Belichick can pick up recruiting quickly.

There should be fewer questions about Belichick’s game calling credentials and despite the personnel losses from last year, it’s reasonable to think that Fisch is expecting UW to be improved on that side of the ball with this hire. Bruce Feldman noted in his piece that 3 of the top 8 defenses in the NCAA this past year were led by DCs who came directly from the NFL with Michigan, Notre Dame, and UCLA.

We’ll have more on the hire once it is made official by the University including Belichick’s specific job title and additional position coach responsibilities.