Felger & Mazz

Felger & Mazz

At this point, it’s fair to wonder: is Tua Tagovailoa now one of Bill Belichick’s greatest adversaries?

With Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Patriots, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now 6-0 in his career against Belichick, which is obviously no small feat. And while Tagovailoa has not played opposite Tom Brady during that stretch, the feat is nonetheless noteworthy given the stranglehold Belichick generally has had on opposing quarterbacks during a career in which he has established himself as one of the greatest defensive minds of all-time.

Here’s the other thing: let’s not ignore the pieces around Tagovailoa, including progressive head coach Mike McDaniel (3-1 against Belichick, 3-0 with Tua as his starter) and dynamic wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has been a thorn in Belichick side for two teams – Kansas City and Miami both. In fact, with Hill on the roster, Tagovailoa’s last three games against Belichick have produced a 99.6 quarterback rating, which would place him near the top of Belichick opponents during the coach’s time in New England.

Among the other quarterbacks who have succeeded against Belichick, assuming a minimum of 100 passes thrown (roughly three games minimum) during the coach’s time in New England? Russell Wilson (131.0), Alex Smith (116.3), Drew Brees (116.1), Patrick Mahomes (104.6) and Deshaun Watson (102.1).

Those names, of course, exclude Belichick’s adversaries at other positions, including coach. (It is worth nothing that, with the exception of Watson, all of the above quarterbacks had head coaches who have won Super Bowls.) Still, there are a great many have matched wits with Belichick over the years – and in a variety of roles – and we offer up five of them here.

  • 5. The Shanahans

    FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 20: Coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos watches the action against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 20, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 20: Coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos watches the action against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 20, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    The encounters between Belichick and Mike Shanahan were relatively sporadic over the years, but know this: Belichick always has held both father and son (Kyle) in very high regard. Belichick and Mike Shanahan went head-to-head five times when Shanahan was the head coach of the Denver Broncos during Belichick’s time in New England. Denver won five of those, including the only playoff meeting, at Denver, in early 2006.

    As for Kyle Shanahan, his only career meeting with Belichick produced a 33-6 San Francisco 49ers victory at Foxboro in 2020. Of course, he was also the offensive coordinator of the 2016 Atlanta Falcons team that built a 28-3 lead over the Patriots in the Super Bowl before self-destructing.

  • 4. Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens

    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20:  Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots 28-13.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 20: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots 28-13. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    Wait … what is this? Obviously, Lewis wasn’t quarterback or, for that matter, a coach. But during years in which Belichick and Tom Brady were paired, there may not have been a more challenging matchup. During Belichick’s years with the Patriots, the Ravens led by Ray Lewis faced them eight times, going 3-5. Four of the Baltimore losses were by six points or fewer, three of those were by a field goal, one of those was in overtime. And in the playoffs, the Ravens went 2-1 against the Pats and all three games were in Foxboro. During the Belichick era, nobody has ever been less intimidated coming into Foxboro than the Ravens led by Ray Lewis.

  • 3. Andy Reid

    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs shake hands after the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 27-20. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 16: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs shake hands after the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 27-20. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    If we’re talking trends, Reid probably deserves to be higher on this list. Since taking over the Kansas City Chiefs, Reid has beaten the Patriots with both Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, which speaks volumes about his tactical ability on the offensive side of the ball. Reid has never beaten Belichick in the postseason, though it should be noted that the Patriots won the coin toss in the only meeting with Reid as coach of the Chiefs, when Kansas City dropped a 37-31 decision in overtime during the only postseason matchup between Brady and Mahomes.

    Prior to that, Reid went 0-4 against Belichick as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, who also lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Belichick had the better quarterback then – and the better team.

  • 2. Peyton Manning

    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots congratulates Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos defeated the New England Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    DENVER, CO – JANUARY 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots congratulates Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos defeated the New England Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Yes, we look at Manning primarily in terms of Tom Brady, quarterback vs. quarterback. But truth be told, Belichick was the true matchup, at least from the standpoint of defending Manning. The took met a total of 24 times in the regular season and playoffs with Belichick holding a 15-9 advantage, though Manning went 3-2 against Belichick in five playoff games, two of which took place in Foxboro. In terms of sheer volume, there was no greater challenger to the Pats than Manning. On many levels, the Pats and Manning were the football equivalent of Ali-Frazier. They always seemed to live up to the hype.

  • 1. Tom Coughlin

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 05: Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    The best matchups are always apples to apples, so this one is nice and clean. Belichick and Coughlin were contemporaries who served on the same staff under Bill Parcells. Coughlin is an offensive guy. Belichick is a defensive guy. As a coach, Coughlin was as unintimidated by Belichick as Ray Lewis was; as a tactician, he was every bit as capable as Manning. The two went 3-3 against one another, but Coughlin won the Big ones, going 2-0 against the Belichick in the Super Bowl, including a Super Bowl XLII win that ended the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season.

    The outcomes of Belichick’s last five meetings against Coughlin were: 38-35 (W), 14-17 (L, SB), 20-24 (L), 17-21 (L, SB) and 27-26 (W). Against everyone else on this list, Belichick can basically claim an edge. But not against Coughlin, at least when it came to their head-to-head meetings.

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