Bill Belichick, Patriots always held Chuck Noll in high esteem
|06.14.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll passed away at the age of 82 on Friday.
Noll, who guided Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl titles, always had the respect of the Patriots franchise, including New England coach Bill Belichick. Belichick spoke of Noll fondly on several occasions — the last time publicly came in October 2013, when Belichick reflected on the possibility of passing Noll for seventh place on the list of most career wins for a head coach.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll. Yeah — he was one of the great coaches when I came into the league in ‘75, and for the next 15 years. I had the opportunity to coach with several coaches who were at Pittsburgh with Coach Noll. Some of the things that I learned from them, or about him through them, whatever you want to call it, and of course competing against him,” Belichick said.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll and his whole program there. They were an excellent team and they were a good, sound team — a team that you always, as a coach outside of Pittsburgh, always tried to look at what they were doing and learn from it: their fundamentals, their technique, their scheme — which wasn’t overly complicated, but it was very sound.
“I think that their program, what they did there schematically and all was very, very good. Coach Noll and his approach to the game, his consistency, his level demeanor and the consistency that they had, I thought was always exemplary, right at the top of coaches that I tried to learn from and take things from them,” Belichick added. “Going against him every year, as a defensive coach against their offense, when I was with the Giants through all those years in the ‘80s was also always a good, it was a great experience because they were so well balanced, they threw the ball down the field, they ran the ball, they had a good balanced attacked.
“I think I learned a lot from the outside, looking at that program that Coach Noll ran. Bill [Cowher] really kind of had somewhat of a continuation of that, even though they changed defensively to his blitz-zone package but a lot of the things that they did fundamentally there, especially on the offensive side of the ball, with Dick Hoak there in the running game and all that, it was a couple decades of stuff really that was a carryover from Coach Noll and the consistency that they had all the way up into this century, the 2000s.”
Prior to Super Bowl XLVI — when the Patriots and Belichick were going for their fourth Super Bowl title — Belichick was asked about the chance to tie Noll’s record for Super Bowl wins.
“It would make me feel pretty good,” Belichick said at the time. “It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation with Chuck. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and the job he did with his team and the organization.
“It’s very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll.”