Maybe it is because he was the middle-man between Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, but in the history of the New England Patriots franchise, Pete Carroll is not looked at in the highest regard. Is it fair to label Carroll a failure in New England, or is Patriots Nation brainwashed by the success of Carroll’s bookends?
While Parcells (now a member of the Football Hall of Fame) is remembered for bringing a level of respectability to Foxborough and Belichick (a future enshrinee in Canton) gave the Kraft family three Super Bowl titles, Carroll is essentially known as the guy who was in the middle, someone whose squad got worse every year while in charge. But the predecessor to Belichick can hold his head high on one fact: he never had a losing season in his three years in Foxborough.
The current coach everyone is talking about took over the Patriots in 1997, one year after Parcells led the franchise to the Super Bowl and bounced to the New York Jets. Carroll inherited an 11-5 squad that had four 1996 Pro-Bowlers, and fan-favorite Drew Bledsoe at that top of the list. That first year, the Carroll-Bledsoe tandem took the Patriots to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Not a discouraging effort in your first year in charge, but a 9-7 1998 followed with a disappointing Wild Card loss before an uninspired 8-8 season in 1999.
That was enough for owner Bob Kraft and Carroll was fired. Rumbles about Carroll clashing with Patritos director of player personnel Bobby Greir were part of the reason why he only lasted three seasons, but now that Carroll runs the show with the Seattle Seahawks on the sidelines and in the front office, and they are in the Super Bowl in his fourth year.
Carroll is now the man; 62 years old yet acts like he is 22, keeping his Seahawks hungry and loose at the same time. He is the talk of the town among the league’s coaches, even voted by NFL players as “the coach you would like to play for.”
All things considered, Carroll left New England in just three seasons. Just a quick glance at his 27-21 regular season record and you would think Kraft’s decision was unjust. Could things have gone differently if Carroll was in charge of player personnel? Surely a possibility, but he did turn a top-of-the-conference franchise with a better-than-average quarterback into a mediocre team in just three seasons. I would call that a failure.