“There’s nobody who’s built a better culture in pro sports than him.” – Krzyzewski on Belichick
“Collectively, it showed how many people had connected with Haskins the person, not just the quarterback…You got the feeling that whatever happened to Haskins on the field, he was going to have a rich and fulfilling life off it.” – King on the emotional reactions to the passing of Dwayne Haskins
“Because of wide variety of opinions on board-stacking throughout the league, some team drafting in the fifties could see its 12th-rated player still alive at 30 and be motivated to jump up there.” – King on the possibility of draft day trades
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 11, 2022 – Peter King speaks with recently-retired Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who offers his perspective on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses the passing of Dwayne Haskins, the upcoming NFL Draft, speaks with Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
COACH K ON BILL BELICHICK
King: “Bill Belichick turns 70 on Saturday, with no end in sight to his transcendent coaching tenure in New England. It’s so hard today to figure out how big a deal that is, because modern life has changed what age means. Most of the greatest coaches of all time, in all sports, have been gone long before 70…Belichick’s no figurehead. He’s the head coach, GM, controller of the coaching staff, prime culture-builder of a six-time Super Bowl champion, orchestrating the construction of a post-Brady franchise.”
King on Belichick and former Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski: “If only there was a comparable person, someone in today’s player-power sports scene, who could understand what Belichick will face now, in his 48th year of coaching in the NFL, in his 28th year as a head coach. There is.”
Krzyzewski on Belichick: “I really admire him and like him. Because really it’s not about him, it’s about them [the players]. There’s nobody who’s built a better culture in pro sports than him. Right? … Pro football’s a big business, man. There can be a lot of selfishness. He’s been able to manage all that. Culture should not be assumed. It needs Miracle-Gro every year, and he’s been able to keep that culture going. There’s a Patriot Way. I totally admire that.”
King on Belichick’s place in history: “One NFL coach among the 15 winningest ever has coached a game past the age of 70. That’s Chicago’s George Halas, who retired at 72…With 321 NFL victories (including postseason games), he needs four wins to pass Halas for second place all-time and 27 to eclipse Don Shula’s NFL record of 347 wins. I’ve not heard anyone say he’s still in coaching to pass Shula. It would certainly be a point of pride for him, but I’m sure he doesn’t think when he wakes up in the morning, ‘One day closer to being the winningest coach ever.’”
King on Krzyzewski’s final season: “Krzyzewski, who coached his last game two weeks ago, won 139 games in his seventies. Part of the reason, he said, was because he expanded authority for his coaching staff. This year, for instance, he gave recruiting authority almost entirely to the coach who would replace him, Jon Scheyer. That kept Krzyzewski fresh and allowed him more time to prepare for games than in any season he remembered.”
Krzyzewski on how his coaching style changed in his final seasons: “As I got older, I allowed more input of expression of teaching from my staff, from the people around me. I was able to see and feel their hunger. I allowed them more opportunity but the person who got more was me. Because I got more of them…Their ownership of what you’re doing is deepened. The best way to get ownership is to use someone’s ideas or give them the ability, the responsibility.”
Krzyzewski on Belichick: “I’ve always felt Bill had a curiosity about the game. It wasn’t what he already knew. It was what he was still going to learn and how he was going to use what he knew in the ever-changing environment that he’s in. He’s very adaptive. He’s probably learned to use the talents of the people around him even better. Like, the former Detroit Lions head coach (Matt Patricia).”
King on the Patriots’ coaching staff this season: “Belichick will probably deploy two recently fired head coaches – Patricia and Joe Judge – to have major offensive coaching roles. Belichick’s theory is, if you’re a good coach, you should be able to coach anything. We’ll see if he’s right; the future of second-year quarterback Mac Jones hangs in the balance…I have my doubts the offensive shuffle will work three years after Brady and one year after departed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but that’s why they play the games.”
Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels to King on Belichick’s future: “If he’s there 10 years from now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that. He still attacks the job the same now that I saw him attack it when I first started in 2001. Doesn’t matter what part of the year it is. The big thing that Bill has going for him and has always done is he loves all the facets of the football season.”
King: “When someone dies so young and so tragically (Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed when struck by a vehicle on a Florida highway Saturday morning), the outpouring of sorrow is going to be emotional. The Haskins death prompted so much more, it seemed. Love from the Steelers teammates he’d known for just a year; love from Washington bosses and players from his time there; and love from his Ohio State family.”
King on the emotional reactions: “Collectively, it showed how many people had connected with Haskins the person, not just the quarterback trying to fight his way back into a starting role in the league. You got the feeling that whatever happened to Haskins on the field, he was going to have a rich and fulfilling life off it.”
King on Haskins as a player: “As a player, Haskins had a real chance to make something of his post-Washington career. The first chance in Pittsburgh this year, clearly, is going to Mitchell Trubisky, but he’s not a lock to take the job long-term. So Haskins was part of a group of players, including Trubisky, throwing to Steeler receivers in Florida, working to get better. I was told over the weekend the Steelers were happy with Haskins the player and person, and he certainly was going to get a legitimate chance to play there.”
King: “It’s impossible to make sense of this. The best tribute to him would be for all who knew him, and even those who didn’t, to take some of his goodness and positivity and make it part of their lives.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on trades leading up to the NFL Draft: “At first glance, you don’t know what to make of the fact that one-third of the top-50 picks have been traded this far before the draft. But consider this factoid about 17 days before the draft: 17 picks have been traded so far this year, and 17 picks had been dealt by this point in 2020 and ’21 combined.”
King: “I’ve heard this from a couple of draft rooms: Because of wide variety of opinions on board-stacking throughout the league, some team drafting in the fifties could see its 12th-rated player still alive at 30 and be motivated to jump up there…When a team trades five picks for a 28-year-old receiver (albeit an explosive one) as Miami did for Tyreek Hill, you know we’re in a different time in the NFL. If there’s a player you love, go get him. I see a lot of deals happening between now and the end of the third round of this draft.”
King on the quarterback prospects in this draft class: “One GM told me he sees three in the top 20, though there appear to be no sure things among the passers set to be taken. Those three are likely Kenny Pickett of Pitt, Malik Willis of Liberty and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder…One of the issues is when a team picks a quarterback in the first round, there are expectations he’ll play as a rookie. Play some, at least…Will his team feel fan, media and owner pressure to play him before his time? That’s an inescapable issue when a guy drafted to be the future at the most important position in the game comes onto the scene.”
King on the Brian Flores lawsuit: “Until last week, the charges in fired Miami coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL and some of its teams boiled down to his word against owners and teams and a coach (Bill Belichick) … But last week, a potentially damning wrinkle was included in the case…This sure has come a long way since the announcement of the Flores suit 10 weeks ago. Within a couple of hours, the NFL announced the lawsuit was ‘without merit.’ Sure doesn’t look that way now.”
King on former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey: “Mularkey, speaking on a podcast in 2020 (how was this missed for a year and a half?), called the Titans’ 2016 coach search a ‘fake hiring process,’ and said ‘the ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016, before they went through the Rooney Rule.’ If true, Mularkey’s charge gives rise to the many who say the Rooney Rule is a sham, because some teams interview minority coaches not to give them a real shot, but to fulfill a league requirement.”
Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner to King on his departure from Seattle: “I think lashing out, that’s the norm. I try to be different. Being older, you can kind of understand some things. I’ve been a part of that organization long enough to see certain guys lash out but then as time heals, they start to come back around the building. So, for me, it was centered around business. It had nothing to do with me personally. It’s more just something they felt that they had to do from a business perspective. No matter how they handled the business, I just kept it at that…To hold grudges and have that type of hate in your heart just doesn’t sit with me.”
King on Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs: “I think, at first glance, the thought of Buffalo paying Stefon Diggs a mega-contract at age 29 seems a little financially aggressive. But it’s hard, when you’ve got a number one receiver who’s caught 230 balls over the past two years, and who you need to be great for at least two or three more years, to say you can’t afford to pay him market value. So paying Diggs was a costly move but a mostly necessary one.”
King on 49ers WR Deebo Samuel: “I think the Niners are going to be in a quandary if Deebo Samuel insists on getting paid top of market, and getting paid now. They might not be able to do that…Dealing with Samuel is going to test the will and negotiating skill of GM John Lynch.”
Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.
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A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.