NFL Network analyst and former Ravens coach Brian Billick joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to share his insight on the similarities between the Seahawks and the Patriots and to discuss Deflategate. To heard the full interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
As a former head coach, Billick’s main area of interest in the Super Bowl is the coaches Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick. He said that the teams overall line up very well in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, however many there are, but that the coaching matchup is pretty similar as well.
“These two coaches,” he said, “were the boy geniuses, crashed and burned in their first jobs, were humbled, came back, put themselves in a position, both great defensive minds, both true head coaches.
“You’ve got two coaches, although brilliant defensive coaches, that are true head coaches in the true sense of the word.”
Billick pointed out that even though Carroll is viewed as more of a player’s coach, that’s just the result of perception, noting that his demeanor is what gives off that impression, not his actions.
“Pete and Bill are the same guy,” he said. “The difference is Pete is California cool, Joe Cool, and Bill, we know, is physically in pain any time he has to talk to anybody in the media or stand in front of a microphone, physically in pain.
“Both are absolutely ruthless when it comes to orchestrating a team, demanding from a team, and as much as he’s the ‘player’s coach,’ no one has turned the personnel over more than Pete Carroll and [GM] John Schneider,” Billick added. “If you can’t get the job done, ‘Hey, I love you man, let’s have a beer afterwards, but your ass is out of here,’ and both are ruthless that way. They just have different ways, they appear from the outside to do it differently.”
Not having a capable quarterback at the helm is what Billick cites as some reasons why Belichick and Carroll may have, as he put it, crashed and burned earlier in their coaching careers. But since they got their guys and have developed as coaches, it makes sense that they’re succeeding.
“If you go back to Bill and Pete in the early years, it’s real simple. They didn’t have the quarterback,” he said. “And it sounds like I’m being disrespectful, but I’m not in any way shape or form. You fall into Tom Brady in the sixth round, and Pete, remember now he was 7-9, 7-9. He gave up a second-round draft choice for [Charlie] Whitehurst, he’d thrown money at Matt Flynn, and they took Russell Wilson in the third round and hit gold.
“And beyond the fact that obviously you grow with the position, you learn, they’re obviously better coaches than they were when they came into it the second time, in Pete’s case, the third time, but the idea that, and that doesn’t mean they weren’t good coaches without them, but you either have that guy or you don’t. If you don’t, you miss out on a first-round quarterback, as much as I’m enjoying this, you’re talking to ‘EEI radio on Super Bowl week instead of coaching a team.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On the league following up with Deflategate: “Everybody’s criticizing the league for following up on this. They’re just following up on what somebody, I don’t know, I don’t whether it was Indianapolis … who knows, not that we’ll ever know. To me, this is monumental and it’s much ado about nothing. Does the ball being deflated have a tangible effect on the game? No. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even know there was a range in terms of where the balls were to be inflated, but if this was, and at some point the league’s going to have to determine, if this, to me this is tax evasion and tax avoidance. We all try to minimize our tax burden with tax avoidance, it’s legal, but if you step over that line into tax evasion, your butt’s going to jail.”
On doctoring footballs: “We’ve been doctoring the balls for forever because you want your quarterback to be able to throw the ball he’s comfortable with. The inflation range was never really a factor. We’d dunk it in water, we’d scuff it up because you don’t want your quarterback throwing a new ball, and that’s why we have the K balls. You don’t want to throw a kicking ball, so we separated that. The fact that, and I don’t know why, and if that needs to be addressed then you go to the league meetings, you go to the competition committee and you say ‘Hey, let’s expand the range a little bit,’ and that’s cool, but right now the range is what it is, and you have to stay within the rules. The fact of what New England’s history has been via Spygate, you can’t disassociate from that. If this were the first time, Josh Gordon is about to be run out of the league. Why? Because of his multiple offense, compared to a guy who’s a first-time offender, OK, we’ll work with that. That’s to me, if, that’s a huge if, New England is found culpable in knowingly manipulating the balls from the organization down, the fine has to be north of what Spygate was. That’s a tall order, by the way.”