Bill Belichick checks in at No. 7 on ESPN's countdown of the greatest coaches in NFL history.
Belichick ranks above Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs and Tom Landry because of his three Super Bowl titles and 151-57 (.726) record with the New England Patriots. But Belichick got his head coaching start with five mostly unsuccessful seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He logged a 36-44 record (.450) and one playoff win.
What was the difference between the Belichick who coached the Browns and the one with the Patriots? Some would say fortune at quarterback. In Cleveland, he made the unpopular decision to cut Bernie Kosar and eventually replace him with Vinny Testaverde (there was the forgettable Todd Philcox period in between). In New England, he replaced Drew Bledsoe with Tom Brady.
Belichick's fate in Cleveland was essentially sealed with the announcement that the Browns would move to Baltimore. The Browns started the 1995 season with a 3-1 record before rumors started to circulate about an unthinkable relocation. Cleveland, which had gone to the divisional playoff round the year before, finished 5-11.
Belichick didn't become the first coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Art Modell fired him before moving moving the Browns, and Belichick got his second chance to be a head coach four years later with the Patriots. The rest is coaching history.