It's no secret that the coaching career of Patriots linebackers coach Steve Belichick has been boosted immeasurably by his legendary father, Bill.
But new comments from recently retired Patriots star cornerback Devin McCourty have perhaps revealed just how much the younger Belichick was out of his depth as a 20-something position coach.
McCourty, during an appearance on former NFL star Chris Long's "Green Light" podcast, claimed that Steve Belichick admitted he was unprepared to for the job when he was promoted to safeties coach in 2016. McCourty said he found Belichick's candor endearing.
"The one thing that I loved about Steve is his honesty," McCourty said. "I remember Steve takes over after Pat Graham left, and Brian Flores moved over to linebackers coach. And Steve said Bill told him two weeks before the offseason program starts that he's going to be the safeties coach.
"Now he's walking in the room. It's me, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, and Nate Ebner. So he's walking in, and we've got all these veterans. I'm older than Steve, Pat's older than Steve, he played with Duron, and he's probably like the same age as Nate. And he walks in there and he goes, 'Yo, I'm going to be honest with y'all: I don't know what the F I'm doing right now. My dad told me two weeks ago that I was even going to have this job,' and now I'm just sitting here like, 'What's next?'
Well, that's certainly honest.
To be fair, Bill Belichick's knack for thrusting his assistants into roles they may not be ready, or qualified, for is pretty well documented. Last season he took it to a whole new level, inserting Matt Patricia and Joe Judge onto the offensive staff despite their respective backgrounds in defense and special teams.
In any event, McCourty went on to say that Steve Belichick has made the most of his chances.
"And that first year, we all just worked together. So now when I look at him, I think his growth has come because of his honesty. Not coming in saying like 'My dad is Bill Belichick, I was born to coach.' Nah he came in there and was like, 'I'm going to learn from some veterans that I've got in this room, take advantage of this opportunity that I get, and I'm going to grow as a coach.'"
There's little doubting that Steve Belichick, now 35, seems to have established himself as a meaningful contributor to what have been strong Patriots defenses since joining the staff as an assistant in 2012. He has steadily climbed the ranks in the decade since, including the handling of defensive play-calling duties for several seasons.
But it's equally true that Belichick's name and connection to his father is what helped him get his foot in the door, a luxury that many or most aspiring young coaches don't have.
On Long's podcast, the discussion about Steve Belichick came up when Long asked McCourty who he sees potentially taking over for Bill Belichick eventually.
The three-time Pro Bowler said he initially thought it would be former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has since departed to be the head coach of the Raiders. Instead, McCourty sees linebackers coach Jerod Mayo as a strong candidate, while Steve Belichick would be a "wild card" candidate.