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Hub Arkush: Belichick and McVay are Super Bowl LIII’s odd couple

January 31, 2019

ATLANTA — Apparently, the NFL’s second-oldest coach, Bill Belichick (Pete Carroll is 7 months, 1 day older) at 66, and its youngest, Sean McVay (who turned 33 last Thursday) are becoming best buds.

According to McVay, “I’ve gotten to know Bill -- we talked at the combine last year -- so that’s been cool. He was really great in the conversation we had, really enlightening.

“This is wild, this season he has basically texted me after every one of our games.

“After we beat Minnesota in September, he texted, ‘Man, you guys are really explosive and impressive and fun to watch. Congratulations -- keep it rolling.’ For him to even take the time to say congrats, it’s pretty cool.

“I was more like a googly eyed school girl saying how appreciative I was that he would even take the time to think about me. His text game is nice.”

The greatest coach in the history of the National Football League also has a text game that is really nice.

As this story started to evolve, most have been surprised that the mainly monotone, brusque and often crusty Belichick would take it upon himself to mentor the kid that many are already projecting as his heir apparent.

Apparently, most folks really don’t know the real Belichick who absolutely loves the history of the game, respects it like religion and has more in common with McVay than you realize.

“I mean, I remember the day when I was the youngest coach in the National Football League,” Belichick says.

He was 28 when Bill Parcells made him his linebacker’s coach and entrusted him with Hall of Famers Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor.

“That was obviously a long, long time ago, but I remember that and everyone saying, ‘How do you relate to the players? They’re older than you are, they know more than you do, you didn’t play,’ etc., etc.

“But that’s just part of the course of your career.”

But Belichick’s fondness for McVay is about a whole lot more than his age.

“Sean as the head coach obviously is responsible for the overall team. He’s done a great job and they’re a very good football team in all three phases of the game.

“I see a really good football team out there that’s been consistently good for the two years that he’s been there, that’s led the league in scoring over that period, they’re very good on defense, they’re very explosive in the kicking game, every player is involved and he’s done a great job of creating that kind of explosive attacking team that’s very hard to play. They’ve been beat very few times over the last two years.”

McVay makes no pretense about the respect he has for Belichick and his assistant many thought would be the first “McVay” 10 years ago in Denver.

“They’ve done a great job. You know I think any time that you’re able to keep your quarterback clean and sustain a great drive by running the football that’s usually going to be a recipe for success.

“Tom (Brady) does such an outstanding job whether it’s the play action game or the drop-back, understanding the timing, the rhythm when the ball needs to come out.

“I think their receivers do a phenomenal job of distributing the field and you can see what you respect so much about coach Belichick and coach [offensive coordinator Josh] McDaniels.”

After both clubs went 2-2 between Weeks 11 and 15 of the season, their coaches had to reinvent them for the playoffs.

Each took the air out of the ball a bit.

Tom Brady’s Pats became a run-first team, the Rams — already blessed with Todd Gurley — added C.J. Anderson and became a two-headed monster, and both clubs run defenses have become dominant in the playoffs.

We expect it from Belichick but have marveled at McVay’s ability to keep pace.

Obviously, Belichick is going to get the nod in any coaching matchup he faces, but McVay is coming fast.

It is unlikely Belichick is ready to be dethroned in the Super Bowl — an event he for the most part owns — but should McVay turn the trick, you now know who will be first in line to say I told you so.

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