It’s been more than 20 years since the Patriots parted ways with him, but with his Seattle Seahawks set to host New England Sunday night, coach Pete Carroll reflected on his time with the organization in a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
“It was a good experience. It didn’t quite work out right but we loved New England,” said Carroll. “The area was fun. A good place to represent and all that. They have great fans and it’s an amazing place. I really enjoyed it.”
Carroll, who had been the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 1996, had the unenviable task of replacing Bill Parcells in 1997. He went 27-21 in three seasons, and was relieved of his duties after going 8-8 and failing to reach the playoffs in 1999.
“When I was there I was under the impression that we were going to bring in the 49ers system, coming from San Francisco and all of that, and that’s not really what happened,” said Carroll. “The philosophy and approach became a blend of what had been and what they had done. So it didn’t quite work out the way that I had intended going in there.”
It was something that Carroll took with him when he went to the college ranks at USC, and then when he returned to the NFL with the Seahawks, joining Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switizer as the only coaches to win a national championship in college as well as a Super Bowl.
“When I got my next chance at USC, I was able to do it the way I wanted to,” said Carroll. “We’ve done things the same for the last 20 years at USC and here. Our approach and mentality and how we treat people, the expectations we have for the program, were all developed really coming out of the New England experience.”
Since returning to the NFL in 2010, his Seahawks have had several memorable games with the Patriots. The last time the two teams met at CenturyLink Field was in 2012, when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson led Seattle to a 24-23 win.
“It was a great game for Russell,” said Carroll. “Now we know Russell does that all the time and it’s really almost what you come to expect with his play. Back then maybe people were surprised, but he’s been that kind of player his whole career, and we’ve been the beneficiary of coaching him up and watching him play for a long time.”
Two years later, it was the Patriots turning the tables and coming away with a dramatic 28-24 win in Super Bowl XLIX, denying the Seahawks a chance to repeat as champions.
“There was a grieving process that we had to go through. It was such a dramatic win for them, and we had to deal with it, so we did,” said Carroll. “Sometimes when you win the Super Bowl, it’s just as challenging as when you lose the Super Bowl. You see most teams that win the Super Bowl don’t do well the next time around. We were back there again and I was really proud of that.”
As for the 2020 edition of the Patriots, quarterback Cam Newton is no stranger to Carroll, with the Seahawks having faced Newton in the playoffs and regular season during his nine seasons in Carolina. He came away impressed with how quickly Bill Belichick and the Patriots were able to tweak the offense to Newton’s strengths.
“We’ve had to defend him for a long time. We do know him well,” said Carroll. “We did see a lot of the concepts and principles that he’s always been successful at utilized. I think it’s a real indication of Bill’s ability to use his talent. This was not the same offense you’d see in years past. They’ve obviously done a lot of work to tailor it and make sure he’s a big part of it. They’re utilizing their personnel very well.”
While the Mariners had to move their series with the Giants from Seattle to San Francisco this week due to poor air quality in Seattle due to fires in Washington and Oregon, Carroll was hopeful that would not be an issue come Sunday night, but said the organization is monitoring the situation.
“”We see a turn in the weather pattern that’s coming for the weekend that should help us out. We’re tuned into it,” said Carroll. “The predictions are that it’s going to move out some, but anything can happen so we’ve got to be ready. But we think it’s going to be fine.”
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