NFL's oldest coaches still innovating in their 70s
The NFL's two septuagenarian coaches still have what it takes to compete in this ever-changing young man's game.
Forty-eight hours after celebrating his 72nd birthday, Pete Carroll led his Seattle Seahawks into Detroit and beat the hyped-up Lions 37-31 in overtime.
Despite starting 0-2 for the first time since 2001, Bill Belichick, who's about six months younger than Carroll, showed the same creativity as ever in unveiling a never-before-seen play to block a field goal attempt in the Patriots' 24-17 loss to Miami.
Detroit had been the darlings of the league after winning eight of its final 10 games last season, capped by a season-ending stunner at Lambeau Field that denied the Packers a playoff berth and put an emphatic end to Aaron Rodgers' tenure as Green Bay's superstar quarterback.
The “hype train,” as coach Dan Campbell has dubbed it, picked up plenty of steam when Detroit beat Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the league’s opening game.
Geno Smith guided the Seahawks on their longest drive of the game after Seattle won the overtime coin toss, capping a 75-yard masterpiece with a 6-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Lockett for a 37-31 win to take a tad of the luster off the Lions.
Belichick didn't win Sunday but showed he's ingenious as ever when his special teams coaches and players unveiling a never-before-seen man-in-motion play to block a field-goal try by Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders.
Brenden Schooler blocked the 49-yard attempt when he executed an innovative and deceptive play design the Patriots put in during the week.
While the rest of his teammates lined up in their standard defensive positions, Schooler stood about halfway between his teammates and his sideline. He went in motion, getting a running start and sprinting parallel to the line of scrimmage, timing his rush perfectly just as the ball was snapped.
His momentum allowed him to easily get around the Dolphins’ edge protector and dive in nearly untouched for a block that teammate Kyle Dugger recovered.
“As soon as the ball was snapped and I felt myself in the momentum, carrying, I just knew I was going to get there," Schooler said.
Watch out for the copycats this weekend.
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, who spent several years on Belichick's staff scheming innovative play designs, said he expects other teams to attempt to do the same thing Schooler did after watching the Patriots run the play to perfection.
“If it works, then it tends to be stolen,” McDaniels said Monday. “That’s what the nature of the profession of coaches is all about.”
They'll need the right guy, however.
According to the NFL’s NextGen Stats, Schooler was running 12.7 miles per hour when the ball was snapped and 13.19 mph when he blocked the kick.
Schooler said when special teams coordinator Cameron Achord and his assistants Joe Judge and Joe Houston drew up the play, “I thought to myself, I trust them but I haven't ever seen anything like this before."
AP Sports Writers Kyle Hightower, Larry Lage and Mark Anderson contributed to this report.
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