On this day, 15 years ago, Robert Kraft hired Bill Belichick to succeed Pete Carroll and become the new head coach of the New England Patriots.
The move completely resurrected the Patriots franchise. Belichick has since delivered three Super Bowl wins and has won 12 division titles during his tenure thus far. And the Patriots are currently one win away from winning their fourth championship since the turn of the century.
Belichick was asked about Carroll—who he’ll be coaching against on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX—during Media Day. He spoke very highly of his coaching counterpart. Belichick said he respects Carroll greatly and learned a lot from the Seahawks head coach.
“Not a coach in the NFL I respect more than Pete Carroll,” he said, via NFL.com. “He’s a tremendous coach. He and I have kind of come up together in roughly the same era. We’ve both been defensive coordinators, we’ve both been head coaches. I have a ton of respect for what Pete does as a coach, how good of a fundamental teacher he is, the way his teams play. I’ve studied him from afar. We’ve never worked together, studied Pete from afar over a long period of time. I’ve learned a lot from what he does, and indirectly, I think he’s made me a better coach. I have all the respect in the world for Pete and his staff.”
Belichick also drew connections from the Seahawks’ defensive scheme to what Monte Kiffin ran as the Arkansas Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator in 1977. Carroll was a graduate assistant for Arkansas at the time, and Lou Holtz was the team’s head coach. Belichick said the two schemes are quite similar, and inferred that it’s very much the same successful scheme that Kiffin ran.
“I think coach Carroll will tell you that their defense is pretty much the defense that he learned and coached in 1977 at Arkansas,” he said. “He’s been doing it a long time. I’d say they’ve gone up against everything they can go up against: great quarterbacks, great receivers, great running games, great offensive lines. They’ve always been good. I think that they have a great system.”
It’s great to see Belichick admit he has learned from Carroll, and that he has become a better coach as a result. Belichick is arguably one of the top three coaches in NFL history, so admitting that he has learned from the head coach he once replaced clearly shows he highly values Carroll’s body of work and his scheme.