Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Belichick baffled many top coaches unemployed


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Bill Belichick is feeling wistful, he can turn on NFL Network.

That's where he'll find most of the kicked-to-the-curb coaches he laments are no longer with teams.

Belichick on Sunday conducted an unscheduled news conference in the NFL scouting combine media center at Lucas Oil Stadium, and amid a rambling, 12-minute opening statement he expressed dismay such fixtures as Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci and Brian Billick weren't there as coaches.

 
  Rich Kane-US PRESSWIRE
  Patriots coach Bill Belichick had plenty of praise for former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.

Belichick lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who replaced Shanahan with the Denver Broncos. Belichick's tight ends coach, Pete Mangurian, joined the revamped Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff after they fired Gruden.

Gruden, Billick and Mariucci have been analyzing the combine for NFL Network. Belichick didn't mention former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, whom the Cleveland Browns fired and replaced with another Belichick disciple, Eric Mangini.

Without being asked, here is what Belichick broached during his initial filibuster:

"It's been kind of fun to see some of the people here that meant so much to our team and my career over the years. At the same time, I think it's a little -- I don't know what the right word is. It just doesn't seem right, really, to not have people like Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, guys that I've coached against and in some cases not very well, not be head coaches in the National Football League.

"Mike Shanahan certainly is a Hall of Fame coach. I know I gotta be on the list of people that he'll thank [in the induction speech] because all the games that have been scheduled against us he's done pretty well, even when I was an assistant with the New York Jets and the Patriots. I haven't beaten him too many times. I'm not disappointed to not have him on my schedule. Believe me. It's just hard to believe that coaches like Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden aren't coaching in the National Football League.

"But that's not my decision. That being said, we got plenty of things to do ourselves. I'm not trying to comment on everybody else's situation, but it's just odd for them to be here, but not in a coaching capacity. But that's the National Football League."

During the question-and-answer portion of Belichick's news conference, he was asked what he thought of top assistants such as Mike Martz and Jim Haslett being unemployed:

"I'm glad you followed up with that because I feel the same way I feel about that as I do about the head coaches. Mike Martz, there's another Super Bowl winner. And Jim Haslett, I have a tremendous respect for Jim Haslett and what he's done.

"Again, I can't really speak for what other teams are doing or not doing. Believe me, I have my hands full trying to just coach the team that I'm on. But it's ... You know, as a coach it's just sort of a little bit of an empty feeling to see people like that not in the game.

"As much as I don't want to compete against them, they certainly deserve to be at this level. They're great coaches. Mike Martz has had a tremendous offensive career. So is Jim on the defensive side of the ball as well as being head coaches.

"I don't know. You have to ask the people that do the hiring."

Belichick was asked what he thought of the trend in hiring hotshot assistants rather than recycle veteran coaches:

"Again, I don't know. I'm just trying to coach the Patriots, really. I'm not trying to solve the world's problems."