First of all, I can't believe Daniel Jeremiah has been sitting on this document since his Ravens days and is only now just releasing it. You'd think someone in possession of these would have had them etched onto plates that would survive a nuclear war to preserve them so future generations can start properly scouting football again once the Earth is repopulated. But the way he writes about it, it almost sounds like he found them in a sock drawer or in a stack of old Maxim magazines with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Lynn Sigler on the cover while he was doing spring cleaning.
For me, this is like one of Napoleon's soldiers finding the Rosetta Stone holding up a wall at Fort Julien and suddenly we can translate hieroglyphics into Greek. It's a Bedouin shepherd boy finding the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran Caves 2,500 years after they were written. I mean, I've spent the last 20 years of my life trying to decipher these mysteries. I didn't just become The Belichick Whisperer overnight. I've done it through hard work. Untold hours spent looking for patterns in his drafting. Eliminating certain types of players through empirical evidence. Assessing the players he's selected vis a vis the ones he's passed up. Pouring over spread sheets of heights and weights, 40 times and "flying 20" times and the all-important 3-Cone Drill. It's been my life's work. And yet, here is the key to Belichick's personnel philosophy, reduced to a few paragraphs. Like a cheat code into his genius.
Like most scholars, I will be pouring over these documents in the weeks, months and years to come. I don't want to jump to conclusions and risk misinterpreting the meanings behind these terms. There's a lot to go over and context will be important as we go forward. But just to provide a few initial reactions:
- I don't know exactly when Daniel Jeremiah was working for the Ravens. But since he came out of college in 2000, it means the memo was being used as a template for the organization 10 years after it was written and six years after they fired Belichick. And Baltimore has been one of the most successful franchises of the 20th century. Remind me again what a failure at talent evaluation GM Bill is.
- You can see the DNA of his future drafts encoded in the general offensive philosophy of building the offense from the inside/out. Which explains so much draft capital in New England being used on the interior line, as well as big contracts given out to your Mankins, Masons and Thuneys.
- The idea of an Avengers of running backs all with different powers is something he's stuck to throughout his career (with the exception of that 2004 season where he relied so much on Corey Dillon), right up until today. You can replace the name Mack with Antoine Smith or Sony Michel, Metcalf with Kevin Faulk or James White and Rathman Marc Edwards or James Develin. That blueprint hasn't been altered in 30 years.
- The tight end thing is interesting as hell. Sure, you'd love a guy who can do it all. But the human race produces a finite amount of Gronks. If you have to choose, you take the receiver type because you can always find a third tackle type. Get the Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham, then complement him with a Michael Hoomanawanui.
- With the receivers as well as the tight ends, the most important attribute is getting off the line, even against press coverage. We've all sort of surmised that straight line speed is not a priority, and here it is in black and whitish gray. It's more about precise route running, quickness, toughness and YAC. This was as true when his wideouts were Webster Slaughter and Reggie Langhorne as when they're Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry.
- The quarterback evaluation is the key to the whole thing for me. I've been planning to hit Belichick's pre-draft press conference to ask him this very question. Because like I said last week
- … if you look at the 11 QBs he's selected, it's hard to identify any common traits other than them all being 6'2" or bigger. But this is a list of priorities that spells it out for us. He mostly values decision making. Followed by leadership and toughness. Accuracy is more important than a power arm. The emphasis is all about not costing his team with stupid mistakes. And that belief has guided his drafts ever since.
Like I said, I'll be pouring through this for years, if not forever. My only request is, if anyone else is holding onto memos that unlock the secrets of the man I've spent my life studying, could you please make them public? Like now? I don't think it's too big an ask.