No coaching carousels for Patriots, Ravens
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill
Belichick has this nice habit. He coaches
in Super Bowls.
has established an impressive trend, too: winning playoff
When they face off Sunday for the second straight year in the AFC
championship, Belichick's Patriots and Harbaugh's Ravens will offer
further proof of the value of stability.
No coaching carousels in New England and Baltimore.
Belichick has been on the job since 2000 and has gone to five Super
Bowls, winning the first three. One more trip to the big game and he
will tie Don Shula for most Super Bowl coaching assignments.
"He never changes," veteran guard Logan
Mankins said. "It's always the
same way from him. He coaches the same way. He demands the same things.
So, when you have that leader in that role, I think it's easy for
everyone else to fall in line."
Harbaugh has managed something Belichick, Shula and every other NFL
coach has not: winning in the postseason in each of his first five
years on the job. He's also been to seven conference title games, four
as an assistant in Philadelphia.
"There's nothing like the playoffs in the National Football League,"
Harbaugh said. "I've never been in any other sport, so it's hard to
compare it to a seven-game series or something like that. But, it would
be hard to imagine, for me, a more exciting thing than being in the NFL
playoffs and getting to championship games and ultimately the Super
Bowl. That's what it's all about. To me, it's the pinnacle of sport."
Belichick and Harbaugh have reached the pinnacle in the AFC, which
hardly is enough for them. They will remain true to their philosophies
and personnas as they try to guide their teams to New Orleans.
For Belichick, that means a high level of secrecy, never providing any
bulletin board material or any real insight when asked about how the
Patriots (13-4) have been so triumphant under him. Belichick flopped in
Cleveland in his first stint as a head coach, but his work in New
England is the envy of his peers.
Of course, it helped a tiny bit to have Tom Brady on his
Brady emphasizes Belichick's steadiness as a key to that success.
"Coach talks about doing your job," Brady said. "Whatever your role may
be — third receiver, third running back — you have to perform your
role. You know whenever your number is called ... everyone is counting
on you. The expectation is you will play at a championship level."
The Patriots have done that for a dozen years; Belichick is third with
18 postseason victories and would tie Shula for second with a win
Sunday. He would tie Tom Landry for the top spot by also winning a
fourth Super Bowl, which would equal Chuck Noll's four in the big game
with the Steelers.
Quite a resume, which also includes three Super Bowls as an assistant.
There's a wealth of knowledge there — even if Belichick is unwilling to
share it with anyone not wearing Patriots colors.
"It has been good for me," said inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, the
Defensive Rookie of the Year and one of New England's steadiest
defenders for five seasons. "I've tried to be a sponge and learn as
much as I can from coach Belichick. My first couple years, we had a lot
of those individual meetings where he pulled me to the side and taught
me, not necessarily the techniques of the game, but just situational
awareness of the game and what the offense can do to you. I'm still
If you stop learning in the NFL, you will be left behind. If you stop
adapting, you won't contend for championships.
Harbaugh, a former special teams coach who reached the Super Bowl with
the 2004 Eagles, has adjusted well throughout his tenure in Baltimore
(12-6). When he joined the Ravens, they had a premier, shutdown
defense. Recently, they've become more dependent on their offense.
Regardless, Harbaugh approaches the job in the same way: tirelessly.
"We get after it in practices and games. We try to bring a physicality
and toughness to everything we do," said veteran center Matt Birk. "We
have a willingness to work hard, and we do, and that comes from coach
Harbaugh is 6-3 in the playoffs, including a 33-14 victory at Gillette
Stadium three years ago. He's lost in both trips to the AFC title game,
including 23-20 to New England last January.
Should he help the Ravens get to their first Super Bowl since the 2000
season, he just might meet his younger brother, Jim, in the Big Easy.
Jim Harbaugh's 49ers are playing at Atlanta for the NFC championship.
"I haven't taken a DNA sample lately," John Harbaugh said, "but it's a
pretty cool thing."
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Stability Is Key For Patriots, Ravens
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