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Bill Belichick has a pretty great record against his former assistant coaches — but not Matt Patricia

Patricia’s Lions were able to upset the Patriots.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Bill Belichick leadership tree has spawned several NFL head coaches. Just not many good ones.

The Patriots head coach has seen eight of his former assistants or scouts earn top jobs in the league, five of whom served under him in New England. He’s faced six of them in head-to-head action. On Sunday night, he met No. 7 when the Pats stared down former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s Lions in Detroit.

New England was favored by 7 points, but the Lions, who came into the night 0-2, were able to push around Patriots for a 26-10 win. That dropped the five-time Super Bowl champion’s record to 14-9 against his proteges and 12-5 against the coaches who served him in Foxborough:

Bill Belichick’s former assistants as NFL head coaches

Coach Regular season NFL record Record vs. Belichick
Coach Regular season NFL record Record vs. Belichick
Nick Saban 15-17 2-2
Al Groh 9-7 2-0
Jim Schwartz 29-51 0-1
Romeo Crennel 28-55 0-1
Eric Mangini 33-47 3-5*
Josh McDaniels 11-17 1-0
Bill O'Brien 31-35 0-5*
Matt Patricia 1-2 1-0

*includes a playoff meeting

That listing doesn’t bode well for the Lions under Patricia going forward, though. Only one one man who branched from the Belichick coaching tree has a career winning percentage above .500 — and that was Groh, who served as Belichick’s fill-in after he ditched the Jets to take over the Patriots in 2000. Groh only spent one year as an NFL head coach before resigning to take the reins at his alma mater, Virginia (he’d go 59-54 in nine seasons with the Cavaliers).

So how did these former Patriots coordinators do in their first game against Belichick?

Mangini and McDaniels each got the opportunity to prove themselves against their former boss in their first year as an NFL head coach. Mangini’s Jets got off to an awful start against the Patriots in a Week 2 showdown in 2006. New York gave up 24 straight points to open the game but a late blocked field goal gave Chad Pennington the chance to run a game-tying drive with less than a minute to play. His efforts fell short in a 24-17 defeat, but it set the tone for a payback Jets victory in Foxborough later in the year.

McDaniels fared better in another tight game. New England led 17-7 at halftime, but a stout defensive effort and a stellar performance from Kyle Orton (330 yards, two touchdowns) pushed the game into overtime at 17-all. Orton would cap the game with a 12-play overtime drive that set up a 41-yard Matt Prater field goal to drop the Pats to 3-2.

A win over the Chargers the following week would push the Broncos to a 6-0 start. They’d then lay the blueprints for McDaniels’ 2010 firing by missing the playoffs with a 2-8 finish.

O’Brien got to face his former team in his second season, where former Texan Keshawn Martin would burn him for a touchdown in a 27-6 stomping. Crennel had to wait until year three with the Browns, then had to watch the 2007 Pats run out to a 20-0 halftime lead as the greatest offense in NFL history ran roughshod over the winningest Browns team of the last 24 years.

Where will Matt Patricia fall on this list?

Patricia’s start to his first head coaching gig suggests he’ll fare closer to Crennel than McDaniels on the former New England assistant scale. His Lions were whooped at the hands of the Jets in Week 1 and a 30-27 defeat in San Francisco last Sunday wasn’t as close as the final score indicates

The defensive specialist had been unable to stop anyone in 2018 — until Tom Brady and the Patriots rolled into Detroit and took one on the chin.

It doesn’t mean all the Lions’, or Patricia’s, problems are fixed, but it was a huge win. Not only did the student beat the master, but this sort of matchup almost always falls in Belichick’s favor. This time, it didn’t.