To commemorate Bill Belichick’s upcoming 70th birthday, NBC Sports’ Peter King sat down with Mike Krzyzewski to get his take on the New England Patriots head coach’s legendary career.
Amid the expected high praise for Belichick’s accomplishments, Krzyzewski made an interesting observation about the makeup of the Patriots’ new-look coaching staff.
The newly retired Duke basketball coach believes Belichick’s decision to shift Matt Patricia, formerly a longtime Patriots defensive coordinator and Detroit Lions head coach, to the offensive side of the ball illustrates how Belichick is putting increased trust in his supporting cast.
“The best way to get ownership is to use someone’s ideas or give them the ability, the responsibility,” Krzyzewski told King. “Like in talking to my team and how you, before a game, set up a scout. As I got older, I allowed more and more, more and more. I learned more. It’s a different music, a little bit different music that occurs.
“I’ve always felt Bill had a curiosity about the game. It wasn’t what he already knew. It was what he was still going to learn and how he was going to use what he knew in the ever-changing environment that he’s in. He’s very adaptive. He’s probably learned to use the talents of the people around him even better. Like, the former Detroit Lions head coach (Patricia) … and how he’s using him. It’s different than his past, right?”
King wrote that “Krzyzewski sounded certain the freshness could be good for the (Patriots’) staff and good for the team,” but Belichick’s plan to replace departed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is a definite gamble. While it remains unclear exactly how Belichick, who turns 70 on Saturday, will structure his offensive staff, he said Patricia and Joe Judge both will have prominent roles despite their areas of expertise being in defense and special teams, respectively.
Though Patricia and Judge both have been NFL head coaches, neither has coached quarterbacks nor called plays. The Patriots have a promising second-year QB in Mac Jones. Transitioning from the uber-experienced McDaniels to this current setup is risky, as Year 2 is a vital stage in any young passer’s development.
Krzyzewski, though, trusts Belichick’s judgment.
“I really admire him and like him,” he told King. “Because really it’s not about him, it’s about them (the players). There’s nobody who’s built a better culture in pro sports than him. Right? … Pro football’s a big business, man. There can be a lot of selfishness. He’s been able to manage all that. Culture should not be assumed. It needs Miracle-Gro every year, and he’s been able to keep that culture going. There’s a Patriot Way. I totally admire that.”