Four thoughts on potential reunion between Bill Belichick and Mike Lombardi
|02.13.14 at 9:19 pm ET|
It sounds more and more like Bill Belichick and Mike Lombardi are going to be working together again. Here are four thoughts on what that reunion would mean for both sides:
1. Belichick and Lombardi are like-minded individuals when it comes to running a football team — Lombardi has a deep and abiding relationship with Belichick that goes back to 1991, when Lombardi was working with Belichick in Cleveland. And while there have been several stops for Lombardi in the last 20-plus years, if there’s anyone left in the organization who could serve as a true counterpoint to Belichick on personnel matters, it would be Lombardi.
The Patriots coach has spoken glowingly of Lombardi in the past, including this statement in December:
‘He’s thorough, he’s smart, he’s thorough, he understands football,’ Belichick said of Lombardi last December in the days leading up to the Browns-Patriots game. ‘He understands not just personnel, but schemes and how certain players fit into certain schemes better than others because of the responsibilities in those schemes; the type of plays or the type of system that coaches run, different coaches run.
‘There are obviously a lot of different coaches in this league, different coaches in college, so that affects the performance of the players — some good, some bad, depending on how they fit into that particular system. I think he has a very good understanding of that, which is important for personnel people to understand, just like it is for coaches to understand personnel.
‘Mike is a hard working guy that won’t leave a stone unturned. He’ll find players, the Tony Joneses of the world, the Wally Williams of the world, the guys like that that played very well for us at Cleveland that nobody ever heard of that came out of nowhere that were good football players. He has a way of finding those guys.’
The relationship between Belichick and Lombardi was so close, in fact, that after Lombardi left the Raiders (he was there in various capacities from 1998 until 2007), then-owner Al Davis accused Lombardi of helping New England to the detriment of Oakland, pointing to the 2007 deal that brought Randy Moss to the Patriots. ‘What’s his name knew he could run, he’s a friend of Belichick’s. Mike Lombardi. Mike sold what’s his name, Belichick, on the idea that [Moss] could run. They tampered with him. I remember Bob Kraft saying that he had to look him in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run.’ Lombardi later denied the charges. ‘I was trying to do the best thing for the Raiders, always have,’ he said. ‘In this situation, Bill Belichick is not going to always rely on my opinion for information. He is going to look at what he sees on the tape.’
2. Lombardi would serve as what might best be termed ‘Nick Caserio Insurance.’ The Patriots current personnel chief suddenly became a man in demand this offseason, as he took two interviews for the vacant Miami GM job, and while it’s debatable how open Caserio would be to leaving Foxboro, the fact that he put himself out there is a sign he could be interested in moving on sooner rather than later, and if/when he did, Lombardi would offer another personnel voice. As it stands right now, it’s unclear what sort of role or title Lombardi would have in the organization, but he’d likely be part of an inner circle of personnel men, a group that includes Belichick, Caserio and college scouting director Jon Robinson.
3. Belichick has had veteran voices in his corner on several occasions, with the latest being Floyd Reese, who served as ‘senior football advisor’ in New England from 200 through 2012. (According to several people close to the organization, Reese was the one who negotiated contracts.) It’s unlikely that Lombardi would fill that role, as he’s more of a personnel man, but it’s not out of the realm that he could have multiple responsibilities if needed.
4. It’s also worth mentioning that despite the fact he was never officially on the Patriots payroll, he continued to keep an interest in New England. His son Mick worked for the Patriots in 2012 before moving on to take a job with the Niners, and then, last year, with the Browns. In addition, Shalise Manza-Young of the Boston Globe reports that Lombardi served as an unofficial advisor/consultant with the Patriots when it came to the 2010 and 2012 drafts.