Pete Carroll says limitations in New England ‘kept me from being the kind of coach I could be’
|01.28.14 at 6:13 pm ET|
NEWARK — His time in New England was brief and not altogether unsuccessful.
Pete Carroll stepped in for Bill Parcells and took his first two teams to the playoffs in 1997 and ’98. But when 1999 ended in 8-8 mediocrity and no playoffs, owner Robert Kraft decided it was time for a change. He was 10-6 in 1997, 9-7 in 1998, a season that ended with Scott Zolak as the starting quarterback against Jacksonville in a 25-10 playoff loss. He was 27-21 in three regular seasons with a playoff win over the Dolphins in his first season.
On Tuesday, at Super Bowl media day, Carroll reflected on those days in Foxboro.
“I never lost sight of what the possible opportunities were,” Carroll said. “I never had a thought where something like this couldn’t happen. But after getting immersed in the college world, that was everything. That was my whole life, so I lost sight of it a little bit there. But when opportunities came up, I’d revisit the thought and then let it go, because they weren’t right until the situation happened with Seattle. As soon as Seattle, when we came together on this thought coaching there, this resurfaced. We know that we’re where we’re intended to be and we’re excited about being here.”
“A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control,” Kraft said at the time, “and it began with following a legend.”
What did he learn from working with Robert and Jonathan Kraft?
“I think I learned a lot. I think I learned a lot of things,” Carroll said. “Robert and his family are a great family to play and coach for. But I also learned what it takes for a person like myself to operate at my highest level and I also realized some limitations that were going on that kept me from being the kind of coach I could be. It allowed me to refocus and formalize some plans that I was able to put in at USC and then at the Seahawks.”
Of course, Carroll bridges the two greatest coaches in Patriots history, with Bill Belichick succeeding him in 2000.
Carroll said goodbye to the NFL for 10 years after the 1999 season with the Patriots. He took over the USC program and left that program just before the bottom fell out in 2009 and the school was hit with sanctions by the NCAA for numerous operations infractions, most centering around Reggie Bush.
Now he’s back in New York, where his NFL head coaching career began in 1994 with the Jets, a run that lasted just one season after his 6-10 record.
“You know, I think I do a pretty good job of not doing that,” Carroll said of looking back. “I don’t really care about trying to figure out where we are right now, just keep moving forward. Someday we’ll look back and that’s when you can kind of make an assessment of what’s happening.
“It’s very special to be here. Look at this event that our players are having to take part of. The game, the matchup, the culmination of the season, all of this is just extraordinary. It goes deeper than that. It goes way back to when we were little kids. There’s a lot to it. All in all, we’re just going to enjoy the heck out of it and try and play a good football game.”