Flexibility has worked in New England

Updated: May 28, 2004, 9:22 AM ET
By Steve Muench | Scouts, Inc.
When a new coach takes over, he must decide between changing his schemes to fit the personnel he has inherited or installing his preferred schemes and asking the existing personnel to adapt.

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick and his assistants in New England -- most notably offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel -- are a perfect example of a staff willing to adjust schemes to take advantage of the players on the roster. Belichick is best known for his creativity on defense, frequently using different alignments and moving players around just before the snap.

However, the biggest factor in New England's two Super Bowl wins over the past three seasons may have been Belichick's influence on Weis and their combined flexibility on offense.

After failing in his previous head coaching stint in Cleveland, there was pressure on Belichick to win right away with the Patriots, and he didn't exactly hit the ground running. New England finished 5-11 in 2000, Belichick's first season, then lost the first two games of the 2001 season, as well.

QB Drew Bledsoe sustained a chest injury during that second loss, forcing Belichick and Weis to turn to Tom Brady, a very different type of quarterback. Brady's evolution into an NFL star is well-known, but without the willingness of Belichick and Weis to adjust their scheme to take advantage of his contrasting strengths, things might have turned out very different.

Steve Muench played four years of Division I-AA football before joining Scouts Inc. in 2002. He has evaluated both NFL and college players for Scouts Inc., but his current focus is on the NFL draft.