Tully Banta-Cain's Failed Stint with 49ers More Proof of Bill Belichick's Genius

Sean CroweSenior Writer IFebruary 21, 2009

Tully Banta-Cain was a nice role player for the New England Patriots.

In his last season with the Patriots, he showed flashes of brilliance. He had 5.5 sacks, became a pretty good third down pass rusher, and looked like he was ready to become a full time starting linebacker in the NFL.

The 49ers saw this, and signed him to a big-money contract hoping he would take the next step in San Francisco. TBC never took that next step.

The 49ers ended up releasing TBC earlier this off-season, and in case you hadn’t heard, the Patriots signed him.

Bill Belichick’s genius isn’t in his game plans. There are plenty of great X’s and O’s coaches in the NFL. There are numerous guys who can draw up a great play.

Belichick can do those things as well as anyone. But his genius is in knowing exactly what a player can and can’t do.

His talent evaluation skills, when it comes to players on his own team, are matched by nobody. It’s the reason why the Patriots have a roster that’s 53 useful players deep, while most teams don’t even have a full set of useful starters.

Belichick knew TBC wasn’t a full-time linebacker. He knew TBC would have issues in coverage and setting the edge against the run.

But he also knew TBC could be a menace rushing the quarterback, and an even bigger menace on special teams.

So that’s what TBC did when he was in New England. He was a standout special teams player and a third down pass rusher. He looked good doing those things because those were the things he was good at doing. Belichick never asked him to set the edge against the rush. He rarely asked him to drop back into coverage.

Belichick saw a guy who could rush the passer, and he used him to rush the passer. That’s it.

It sounds simple, but there aren’t 5 other head coaches in the NFL who handle their own talent as efficiently.

It’s also the primary reason why I think Josh McDaniels is going to be successful in Denver. The guys who have left here to become head coaches have all been pretty good X’s and O’s guys. McDaniels is no exception. But it’s his background in personnel that will make the difference in Denver.

Because you can come up with the best game plans in the world, if you don’t have players who can carry them out, you’re not going to be successful.

Just ask Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, and Eric Mangini.


This article originally appeared on the New England Patriots Examiner page. To read more articles like this one, check them out here.

Sean Crowe covers the New England Patriots for Examiner.com and writes a bi-weekly column for Sports-Central.org.

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at scrowe@gmail.com.