Belichick, Carroll have different styles
PHOENIX — Put Bill Belichick behind a microphone and he’s CSPAN — minus the information.
Pete Carroll is more like a Lifetime movie. Or, as defensive lineman Michael Bennett puts it, “He has that Benjamin Button effect on everyone.”
The Super Bowl coaches approach their obligations to the public and media from opposite ends. Belichick, coaching for his fourth championship in New England, is dry, offers little to no insight and rarely makes anyone laugh. Carroll, looking for his second straight title, is a high-fiving, fist-bumping extrovert who started one of his news conferences this week with a welcoming, “What’s up?!?”
Different styles have produced similar results, though.
Belichick is making his sixth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach and his Patriots are as close as there is to a dynasty in the current NFL. Carroll’s team is being mentioned as a possible dynasty, as well, and that notion will only gain steam if the Seahawks win Sunday and become the first back-to-back champions since, who else?, New England in 2003-04.
Dissimilar as they are, they have both built their teams on a foundation of unflinching candor inside their lock- er and meeting rooms — a quality Carroll brings to some of his public speaking, but one that Belichick eschews.
“What you see on TV is what you get, pretty much, from the two,” said Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who previously played for Carroll in Seattle. “They have similarities too, though. Their football IQ is way up there. They are so different, but at the same time they’re the same. That’s why they both have succeeded at this level.”
Over his 15 years in New England, Belichick has made it increasingly difficult for anyone outside of Patriots Nation to love him. Nobody likes a boring cheater, and that is how he’s sometimes portrayed. It’s all summed up in his handling of the controversy of Super Bowl week — Deflategate — a subject he has refused to talk about since Saturday, when he held a news conference to deny wrongdoing and announce he was moving on. “We’re just focused on Seattle this week,” he’s said, repeating some version of that time and again.
A much fuller picture of the coach was painted in the 2013 NFL Network production “A Football Life,” which gave an inside and genuinely absorbing look at the coach — miked up and behind the scenes during what turned out to be a disappointing 2009 season.
“Hard not to get choked up about it,” Belichick said, barely controlling the tears as he toured his old stomping grounds, the old Giants Stadium, where he won his first two Super Bowl rings as New York’s defensive coordinator. “I spent a lot of hours in that room.”
One trait his old boss, Bill Parcells, turned into an art was figuring out how to get the most from each of his players by treating them individually.
It’s not a trait Belichick shares, at least in the sense that no one seems to get the Superstar Treatment in New England: High-priced cornerback Darrelle Revis got sent home one day for being late for a meeting. Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards in a win against Indianapolis but has barely been heard from again after showing up late for a meeting.
“He’s done a good job of treating everybody fairly, treating everybody the same,” said Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. “If something goes wrong, he makes sure we know about it. It’s all about knowing how to get the best out of everybody.”
Carroll does the same thing — just differently.
Quirky as they come, he once said a book that guided many of his core philosophies was, “The Inner Game of Tennis,” a 1974 self-help manuscript by W. Timothy Callwey that is about finding “the state of ‘relaxed concentration’ that helps you play your best.”
It’s also about tennis, but “the stuff really resonated,” Carroll said in an interview while he was coaching Southern California.
In keeping with the touchy-feely theme, he has repeatedly made it clear this week that he respects the individuality of his players — from Richard Sherman, who is willing to speak on just about everything, to Marshawn Lynch, who doesn’t want to talk about anything.
The coach’s willingness to bend, however, does not mean he deviates from the consistent routine he established when he came to Seattle after nine years at USC. Wednesdays are “Competition Wednesdays.” Thursdays are “Turnover Thursdays.” And so on.
“He’s got a philosophy he stays true to,” said offensive line coach Tom Cable. “For a lot of us who’ve coached a long time, we’ve been around a lot of great teachers, but their philosophies can go up and down. For him, he’s the way he is every day.”
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (left) and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will employ different styles at Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday.