Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will attempt to outwit one another Sunday in the Super Bowl. With all the talk about the players, the coaches might actually be the most interesting matchup.
The coaches have strikingly different demeanors. Carroll is known for his new age, high-energy approach. Belichick is known for his gruffness. They have both had, however, exceptionally successful careers.
Belichick has a long history in football, as has his father a well-respected football scout. Belichick began his coaching career at various NFL assistant positions before ascending to defensive coordinator of the New York Giants at just 33 years old. His defensive game plan to win Super Bowl XXV was so well regarded that it is saved in the Football Hall of Fame.
Belichick would move on to the Cleveland Browns in 1991 for his first head coaching job, but was fired when the team moved to Baltimore in 1996. After some flirtations with the New York Jets, he became head coach of the Patriots in 2000. He replaced none other than Carroll. Since taking over in New England, Belichick has won 195 games, 12 division titles, five AFC championships and three Super Bowls.
"He's very consistent," quarterback Tom Brady said of his longtime head coach, in a USA Today report. "I don't think there is much that's changed from his personality or his coaching style.
"He has high expectations for our team. ... The meeting rooms are important, the walkthroughs are important, and the pressure is always on with him. So that ultimately gets the best out of all of us."
Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, before moving to the NFL as a position coach and defensive coordinator. He eventually got promoted to head coach of the Jets in 1994. He later moved to the San Francisco 49ers as a defensive coordinator and became head coach of the Patriots for three middling seasons. When Belichick took over and found unprecedented success, some experts believed that it was an indictment on Carroll.
After some time away from coaching, Carroll would return to college and take over as head coach of USC, reviving a program that struggled on multiple predecessors. He was a master recruiter and turned the Trojans into a powerhouse, winning 97 games, six BCS bowl games and two national championships. Carroll jumped back to the NFL in 2010 as head coach of the Seahawks. He has turned Seattle’s ship around since joining, winning three division championships, two NFC championships, and last year’s Super Bowl.
"I could tell then there was something that separated Carroll from others coaches who recruited me," star cornerback and former Stanford product Richard Sherman wrote of Carroll in a post on MMQB in 2014. "You could feel the positive energy, how upbeat he was and how much he believed in what he was saying. He had a different aura to him."
Both coaches made their names as defensive experts. Carroll places an emphasis on defensive backs, while Belichick creates complex game plans that shut down the opposition’s star players. The Seahawks allowed 15.9 points per game this season, best in the NFL, while the Patriots allowed 19.6, eighth best in the league. Both coaches have also grown into great offensive coaches as well. Carroll built a formidable rushing attack for Seattle and Belichick developed a fast-moving, versatile offense for New England.
Belichick is often called the NFL’s best coach and Carroll isn’t far behind (if behind at all). The two will engage in an interesting coaching battle in the Super Bowl, 15 years after their career paths intersected in New England.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.