(Belichick photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)
Talk of Fame Network
Bill Belichick knows a little something about defense. He has six Super Bowl rings to prove it.
Those rings -- and those defenses – gave the New England head coach the nod in this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll as the best defensive mind in the NFL. Belichick received 34 percent of the vote to outdistance Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer at 28 percent. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was next at 18 percent, followed by Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Belichick served as defensive coordinator of two Super Bowl champions with the New York Giants (1986, 1990) and also presided over four other Super Bowl champions with the Patriots.
Both of his New York champions finished second in the league in defense, and his 1986 team collected 59 sacks. His four New England Super Bowl champs all finished in the Top 10 in scoring defense, with the 2003 champion allowing the fewest points in the league.
His defensive game plans regularly undressed the best offensive teams in football, most notably the 2001 Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl and the 2004 Colts in the AFC semifinals. Both opponents had rare 500-point offenses that season, plus NFL MVPs at quarterback.
Belichick received the vote of all three Talk of Fame Network hosts Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge in what all concede was a very strong slate of candidates.
"LeBeau may be the most innovative and Phillips the most success in the most places," Borges said, "but Belichick has the jewelry and the chops to be seen as the best."
"His defensive game plan in Super Bowl (versus the Rams in 2002) was pure genius, leading New England to one of the greatest upsets in that game's history," Judge added. "He is smart, innovative and successful, and that goes a long way in any league."
Carroll’s Seattle defense leads the NFL this season. Phillips’ Denver pass rush leads the league with 21 sacks and Zimmer’s Minnesota defense leads the NFL in takeaways with 12. LeBeau’s Tennessee defense has had six sacks apiece in its last two games and joins Seattle, Denver and Minnesota among the league’s Top 10 defenses this season.