Years ago, during the week leading up to one of the New England Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories in four seasons under Bill Belichick, the man known for his hooded sweatshirt and stoic nature was asked about the role then-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis played in the Patriots’ success.
Belichick, widely known as one of the game’s true masterminds, did not hesitate to gush about his assistant coach.
“Charlie is a very smart person,” Belichick said. “He really understands what defenses are doing and how to attack them. He’s an outstanding play-caller and has a great sense of timing of when to call certain plays. It’s one thing to put together a game plan, and it’s another to call the plays at the right time, when they match up the way you want to match up. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
For as long as he’s been in the eye of the media, be that as an ultra-successful offensive coordinator in the NFL, the top dog at Notre Dame or as the new head coach of the Kansas University football team, Weis has credited much of his success to legendary NFL coaches Belichick and Bill Parcells.
Weis learned a variety of lessons during the combined 13 seasons he spent working for the two future Hall-of-Famers. From time management and how to push players, to strategy and how to dissect the game, Weis soaked it all in while handling different types of roles with the New York Giants, New York Jets and New England Patriots.
In 1990, when the Giants beat Buffalo to win Super Bowl XXV, all three were on the same staff. Parcells was the head coach, Belichick was his defensive coordinator and Weis was an assistant. While that was the only season in which Weis worked under both at the same time, it gave him a first-hand look at the very different way each man conducted his business.
“To this day, I have never seen anyone that is any better of a master psychologist of a football team and organization than Bill Parcells,” Weis recalled during last week’s introductory news conference at KU. “He would know every single person in this room. He would know what buttons to press with every single individual, to try and get them to a different level than they thought they were capable of being at. Whereas Belichick is a totally different person. His two greatest strengths are his insight into the game and his foresight. He is well above any coach I have ever seen in just the study of the game, while at the same time he is always thinking down the road. That is what separates his organization from most.”
Although Weis’ two NFL mentors had different strengths, they also shared several traits. And Weis carries many of them with him to this day.
“Both Parcells and Belichick believed that each week was a separate entity,” Weis said. “You might have one game plan one week, and the next week the game plan might be totally different. You might be playing (against a) 3-4 (defense) this week and next week it might be all 4-man fronts every snap. It was whatever it took to win that game.”
For Weis, that’s really all it comes down to. Since picking up coaching as a full-time profession, Weis has been successful everywhere he’s been. His 16 seasons as an NFL assistant yielded an overall record of 165-108, four Super Bowl titles and eight playoff appearances. In five years at Notre Dame, he finished 35-27 and reached three bowl games. And this season, his first as the offensive coordinator at Florida, the Gators finished 6-6 and earned a trip to the Gator Bowl.
Weis was partly responsible for nearly all of those victories. And Belichick’s comments from years ago may offer a glimpse into why.
“He’s very good at making adjustments during a game,” Belichick said. “He sees when some of the things that we thought were good now don’t look that good and we need to shift to something else. He is decisive and smart. He can pull the trigger. He’s not afraid to make tough decisions or to make calls in critical situations. He knows what he wants to do and he does it with a lot of confidence. And I think that gets conveyed to the people who are executing it.”