Super Bowl XLIX Preview: Coaches
By: Jack DeMarco
Whether it’s the style of play, color scheme, or player attitude, the 49th Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks is full of opposites. However, maybe the most glaring difference between these perspective franchises is their leaders on the field. The head coach of the Seahawks, Pete Carroll, and the head coach of the Patriots, Bill Belichick command their sidelines comparatively like apples and oranges. Even so, it can be easily argued that Belichick’s innovation and humbleness is a big reason why the Patriots have maintained recent success in the NFL. On the same token, it’s hard to dispute that the flamboyant and inspirational Pete Carroll isn’t a core reason why the Seahawks find themselves on the brink of back-to-back Super Bowl victories. So, before the edge is awarded to Carroll or Belichick, consider the following.
The sideline with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at the helm is like watching Houdini in action, the one exception being Belichick’s most formal outfit consists of a hoodie with the sleeves still attached. Attire aside, Belichick prides himself in finding the nuances of the NFL game and crafting them into game plans that have propelled the Patriots to four Super Bowl appearances in the last decade. Adding the fact that the Patriots have only missed the playoffs twice in the past 15 seasons, declaring the Pats as a dynasty is not a reach. In those 15 seasons as the Patriots head coach, Belichick owns a 73% winning percentage in post-season and regular season games, meaning the consistency has been there. Moreover, Belichick will be appearing in his sixth Super Bowl on February 1, showing the stage is familiar to him.
Before the likes of the New York Jets and Giants, integrity and Super Bowl performance were not questions of the New England organization. Both problems sprouted in 2007, and as it pertains to the Jets and their former head coach Eric Mangini, they ignited what would be later coined “spygate”. Spygate was a videotaping conspiracy that found the Patriots guilty of filming defensive signals of the New York Jets staff. In 2015, the Patriots find themselves subject to another allegation; deflating the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. Although unproven at this point, the Patriots are under heavy scrutiny from the league. Ever since, the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl, losing both opportunities in 2007 and 2011 to the New York Giants. In summation, the monkey is definitely on Belichick’s back to break the trend and deliver in the most watched sporting event in the world.
Carroll’s resume with the Seahawks is much shorter in length, but not in quality. Carroll, in every sense of the word, is a player’s coach who gets his player’s to execute beyond their potential. Not only do the Seahawk players love suiting up for Carroll, but also take pride in their fan base. The infamous 12th man, a symbol of die-hard ‘hawk fans, has erupted since Carroll’s arrival in 2010. Carroll has brought the Seahawks to the playoffs in four of the five seasons as head coach, and reached the pinnacle of accomplishments with a Super Bowl victory last season over the Denver Broncos. Carroll’s early career in Seattle became highly acclaimed with his decision to make 3rd round pick Russell Wilson the starting quarterback in 2012. Since then, the Seahawks own a 38-12 record that not only happened from the brilliance of Wilson, but also the mastery of Carroll to build a dominant defense that has now finished first in total defense over the past two seasons.
Unfortunately, Carroll’s Super Bowl win has to be assessed with a grain of salt. Seattle’s historically early lead and eventual victory, came about with an anomaly of highly bizarre plays. To begin the game, the Seahawks forced a rare safety, and later on, added interception and kickoff returns for touchdowns. To say the least, the Broncos never had the opportunity to be in sync, and Seattle rushed to a 22-0 even before the Broncos realized they were playing in the Super Bowl. So the uncertainty lies in whether or not Carroll can be the source of similar luck, and can they again make the plays to annihilate an opponent’s hope as they did with their 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII. The Patriots are not a team to make mistakes, and Seattle feeds off mistakes, so which trend will prevail is the real question.
Carroll or Belichick?
Even though Carroll has the tools and momentum to beat out Belichick in preparation and execution come Super Bowl Sunday, Belichick has the slight edge in this coaching matchup. Carroll can boast about his dominant defense, the playmaking ability of Wilson, and the punishing presence of running back Marshawn Lynch, but none are likely to phase Belichick due to a couple factors. First off, Belichick’s developed rapport with Tom Brady, has been the benchmark for consistency. Furthermore this foundation helps for flowing parts, mainly running backs, tight ends, and wide outs to be effective pieces of a system. This system gives Belichick the ability to be successful through adapting to opposition strengths and imposing his will on opponent’s weaknesses, which make him a rare gem and mind of the NFL. But most importantly, the Patriots organization is famous for the term “The Patriot Way”, which is most of all a discipline that organizes Belichick’s motives, which are often showcased on the football field in a winning fashion.