Coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski offers perspective as Bill Belichick turns 70


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. Red Auerbach coached his last Celtics game at 48, shocking as that might seem. Curly Lambeau was done at 55, Chuck Noll at 59, Tom Landry at 64, John Wooden at 64, Don Shula at 65, Scotty Bowman at 68. I don’t know what to make of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, who seemed to be figureheads more than coaches as they held head-coach titles past age 80.

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. 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.

“I can’t get into his head,” Mike Krzyzewski said from North Carolina the other day. “But watching him, it’s incredibly interesting. When somebody says, ‘You’ve been doing this the same way—it’s the same job,’ no, it’s not the same job. I’m adapting; it’s exciting. Like, I’m 75. That happened with USA Basketball later in my life, and I wanted to use what I learned. That’s what I see in Bill from afar. 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?”

“Quite a statement,” I said. “You built a pretty good culture yourself.”

“Yeah,” Krzyzewski said, quietly scoffing. “But that’s collegiate. 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.”

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. He was a pedestrian 21-18-3 in his seventies, never making the postseason.

Halas looked 80 when he retired. Belichick looks 55 today. He once said you wouldn’t catch him coaching in his seventies like Marv Levy, but in this age-is-just-a-number world today, grandiose statements like that look almost naïve in retrospect. If a man can be president at 79, a man should be able to coach a football game against the Jets at 70.

Belichick loves football history, and his collection of books about football, now on loan to the U.S. Naval Academy, is the biggest in the world. 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.”

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.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. (USA TODAY Sports)

“As I got older,” Krzyzewski said, “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. Like in talking to my team and how you, before a game, set up a scout. As I got older, I allowed more and more, more and more. I learned more. It’s a different music, a little bit different music that occurs.

“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?

“Yeah. And how he’s using him. It’s different than his past, right?”

Likely yes. 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. The Patriots are 17-17 post-Brady, and in a division with two formidable teams, Buffalo and Miami, Belichick’s future success will depend on the jobs coaches in new positions can do, and how good Jones can be over the long haul.

Krzyzewski sounded certain the freshness could be good for the staff and good for the team—but the brain drain on the coaching staff is a major question mark for the Patriots. 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.

Belichick will coach mostly against men at least a generation younger than he is—average age of the three other AFC East coaches: 43—and the age gap didn’t faze Krzyzewski as he got into his seventies. “I never had to beat them,” Krzyzewski said. “I had to beat their teams. I had 18- to 23-year-olds trying to beat their 20- to 24-year-olds. I’m not saying I’m better. But I’ve never lost my edge in competition. I anally prepare. I never felt age in coaching. Ever. Ever. The other thing is, by being with these guys, you stay young. You gotta be able to relate to them. I’m proud of the fact that in five different decades, we made the Final Four.

“Bill trusts his work. He’s doing what he loves to do. He doesn’t get out of character. I’m here. I’m working. I’m prepared. I never get out of character. I love that about him.”

One other challenge for Belichick, of course, is proving he can win consistently without Brady. In 18 of his 27 coaching seasons, Brady was his partner in greatness, and New England got to nine Super Bowls. In nine non-Brady seasons, Belichick teams have gone 73-79, including just one playoff win. (That includes a 3-1 mark in Brady’s four-game suspension to start 2016.) He certainly knows that. So the challenge for him is not just maintaining his edge in his seventies, it’s rebuilding a franchise to compete against one premier rival (Buffalo), one rising one (Miami) and one total question mark (the Jets).

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles
Belichick and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. (Getty Images)

I asked a man who worked with Belichick every day for 18 of the last 21 years what he expects of Belichick’s future coaching life.

“If he’s there 10 years from now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that,” said McDaniels, who left this year to take the Raiders head-coaching job.

“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, whether it’s scouting, preparation for a game, roster evaluation, team-building, developmental parts of the year for the young players. All of those things get weighted the same for him,” McDaniels said.

Of the storylines on the horizon in the NFL, Belichick in the twilight is an underrated one. It starts Saturday, on his 70th birthday.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!