Belichick sees Staubach in Wilson's game
The New England Patriots and Bill Belichick lost their only game against the Seattle Seahawks during the Russell Wilson-Pete Carroll era, 24-23 in 2012.
The memories of that game are distant and unglorious in Foxborough, Mass.
"Not a lot of great ones," Belichick said Tuesday.
Patriots' coaches are using this week as a virtual bye week to scout and game plan the Seahawks before players return for the first preparation practice Thursday afternoon. It counters Carroll's plan for the week, which follows the typical work-week schedule of a Tuesday off day followed by three days of practice.
The Seahawks travel to Phoenix with an estimated arrival Sunday afternoon around 5 p.m. ET. New England's plans will be announced later in the week. The Patriots in the past have waited until Monday to depart team headquarters to have a full game plan installed before shoving off for the chaos of Super Bowl week.
In the film room, Belichick's early impressions of the NFC Champions -- there's no room for mistakes.
"A really good football team. They've shown that week after week and year after year," Belichick said. "They're well coached. They have a lot of good football players that compete hard down after down; nothing's easy. They make you work for everything. They're good in all phases of the game: offense, defense, special teams. They made big plays in the kicking game to beat Green Bay with the onside kick and the fake field goal. They tackle well, they run well, they run the ball well and they have good team speed. ... They make you earn everything."
Belichick won his 21st career playoff game Sunday, passing idol Tom Landry for the NFL record for postseason wins. One of Landry's star pupils, Roger Staubach, inspired Belichick's comparison for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
"There's just something, I can't really put it into words," Belichick said Tuesday. "Wilson's just got an instinctiveness. He just knows where people are. It looks like he's going to get tackled and he doesn't. It kind of reminds of watching Staubach. You think he doesn't see them, but he sees them or somehow he just knows they're there. He's got an uncanny sense of awareness of what's around him -- good or bad. I don't know how you -- I can't really define it. I don't know how you coach it; it's just an awareness that all great players have it. All good players have it. I think he just has it at a higher level. It's really impressive."
Wilson led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing with 849 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per carry.
It's not a comparison the great coach takes lightly.
Belichick is intimately aware of Staubach's game, having watched him develop at Navy. The Patriots' coach even watched film with Navy players when his father, Steve Belichick, worked as a scout and coach in college football.
Wilson is just one facet of the Seahawks' rushing attack averaging 147 yards on the ground in the postseason after leading the NFL with 172.6 yards per game in the regular season. Seattle averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the regular season.
"You try to stop the run and then you have to deal with the play-action game. Certainly the running game is a big priority," Belichick said. "Some of Wilson's plays come on bootlegs, so he's kind of running out of the pocket and you're concerned about him running and then you stay back and he runs. Then you try to come up on him and the receiver uncovers and he throws it. He's kind of trying to create that two-on-one fast break type of situation. They're good at it. They're really good at it."